Donald Gene Turnupseed

Donald Gene Turnupseed - Stories

    American Folk Figure. He was the driver of the 1950 Ford Tudor that collided with a 1956 Porsche Spyder driven by the famed actor James Dean on September 30, 1955. Turnupseed was a 23 year old college student at Cal Poly State University when driving eastbound on Route 466 (later renamed Route 46) when attempting to make a left turn onto Route 41, when he collided with Dean's Porsche traveling in the opposite direction, killing him instantly. There was never an official finding of fault in the crash, however standard driving procedure would indicate that Turnupseed was at fault since he made the left in front of Dean. However Dean's excessive speed (up to 150 MPH) on this isolated road, with the sun in his eyes (the crash happened around sunset time, with Dean driving west and sun sets in the west) are also contributing factors. Turnupseed kept a low profile after the accident. He lived almost 40 years after this accident, and gave only one interview, and that was a day after the accident, and that to his local paper. His family also helped shield him reporters. He ran a very successful electrical contracting business for most of the time since the accident before dying of lung cancer in 1995. (bio by: Steve-Oh)

    Turnupseed, 2nd driver in James Dean crash, dies at 63

      Donald Turnupseed, the Tulare man who quietly built a family business
      and endeavored to maintain his privacy after being involved in the car
      accident that killed actor James Dean four decades ago, has died at age
      63. Requests for interviews about the Sept. 30, 1955, crash came from
      around the world and served as a constant annoyance to Turnupseed.

      "That's something that bothered him his whole life. That's not Donald
      Turnupseed," said Wally Nelson, president of Turnupseed Electric in
      Tulare.

      As this year's 40th anniversary of the crash approached, requests for
      interviews continued. A German journalist was the last the call, Nelson
      said.

      "He's been bothered by people constantly trying to write a story."
      Nelson said. "There's always somebody calling up or coming to the door.
      We had to push them out the door."

      Although he has refused interviews for decades, Turnupseed did speak
      with the Tulare Advance Register hours after the crash. It occurred
      when he pulled his 1950 Ford from Highway 46 onto Highway 41 near
      Cholame. Turnupseed's car was struck by a speeding silver grey Porsche
      Spyder driven by Dean, who at 24 was the star of three major films. "I
      didn't see him coming," Turnupseed said.

      Turnupseed was coming home to Tulare from Cal Poly State University,
      San Luis Obispo, where he was a student. Dean was in route to a race in
      Salinas. His mechanic was a passenger.

      Dean, star of "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause" in 1955 and
      "Giant in 1956, died in an ambulance headed for a Paso Robles hospital.
      His mechanic, Rolf Wuetherich, was seriously injured but recovered.
      Wuetherich died in 1981 in a car crash in West Germany.

      On advise from la California Highway Patrol officer, Turnupseed
      hitch-hiked to Tulare after the crash. He was treated for a scraped
      nose and bruises at Tulare District Hospital.

      Extensive investigation of the accident never established guilt, said
      C.R. "Budgie" Sturgeon, a partner in Spuhler and Sturgeon Insurance,
      which had a policy on Turnupseed's Ford. "It was never established
      whose fault it was. It just died."

      Turnupseed's family declined to be interviewed for this story. With the
      aid of his late parents, Harley and Ruth Turnupseed, the Porterville
      native built an electrical contracting business with commercial clients
      across the San Joaquin Valley and the central coast. Customers include
      Kraft Foods, Haagen Dazs, US Cold Storage and California Milk
      Producers, among others. The 48-year old company which employs and
      average of 75 workers, has branch offices in Bakersfield and Fresno and
      annual sales of about $15 million. "They were tough competitors," said
      Al Paggi, owner of Paggi Electric. "As a business person, (Donald
      Turnupseed) learned from his dad. His dad was a very, very tough-minded
      person. But they never shorted anybody on their work."

      Unlike his father, Donald Turnupseed was likeable, but not outgoing,
      Paggi said. "You could never get close to Don." The business owner was
      quiet even before the crash, Paggi said. The accident probably caused
      Turnupseed to be more private still, Paggi said. "More than likely," he
      said.

      Turnupseed developed a fondness for cars while a student at Tulare
      Union High School in the 1940s when he got a Model A, said Al Paggi,
      owner of Paggi Electric.

      "He turned it into a little race car." Paggi said. Years later, he
      built dune buggies, nelson said. "The last 10 years he didn't do that
      much," Nelson said. "The last 10 years he didn't do that much," Nelson
      said, "He devoted a lot of time to business. Business was his hobby."

      Turnupseed was an innovator, including selling clients on preventative
      maintenance programs, Nelson said. "They had a chance to fix it before
      down time."

      Turnupseed was president of the San Joaquin Valley chapter of National
      Electrical Contractors Association 1990-94. He handed control of his
      company to Nelson last year as his lung cancer progressed. But he kept
      close ties to the business, Nelson said.

      He is survived by his wife, Mollie Turnupseed, Tulare; two sons, David
      and Donald Bruce Turnupseed, both of Tulare; one stepson, Rick Bradley,
      Coalinga; one daughter, Peggy Henson, Fresno; and five grandchildren.

      Visitation will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Miller's Tulare Funeral
      Home. Graveside services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in Tulare Cemetery.
      Remembrances may be sent to Hospice of Tulare County, 605 W. Willow
      Ave, Visalia, CA 93201.

      -from the Tulare Advanced Register, July 13/14, 1995

      Questions linger 50 years after James Dean’s fatal crash

        CORONER’S INQUEST CLEARED DRIVER, BUT QUESTIONS LINGER 50 YEARS LATER?WITH DEAN’S DEATH, THE FATE OF A CAL POLY STUDENT AND KOREAN WAR VETERAN RESIDED IN THE HANDS OF A DOZEN NORTH COUNTY CITIZENS

        Published: Saturday, October 1, 2005

        By Jay Thompson
        The Tribune
        Although scores of people had driven by the wreck Friday evening, many North County residents were just learning Saturday, Oct. 1, 1955, that James Dean died near Cholame.
        The actor was not yet a household name, but it was a different story with area teens, who had seen him in “East of Eden” earlier that year.
        “I think he was new and upcoming, and my gosh — he was so handsome from a high-school girl’s point of view,” said Maggi Shepard, who was a 16-year-old senior at Paso Robles High School that fall. “And it was like he was ours because this thing happened so close to home.”
        In the next 10 days local officials would investigate the crash and hold a hearing to determine what caused Dean and Cal Poly student Donald G. Turnupseed to collide at Highways 41 and what was then 466, and if someone would be held accountable for the actor’s death.

        Backtracking Dean’s route

        Ernie Tripke, CHP officer called to the Jame Dean accident.

        The accident was the talk of Paso that morning, and work would soon resume for CHP officer Ernie Tripke, 32, the lead investigator. He got to work after 9 a.m. and was immediately met by a flurry of reporters’ phone calls.
        “This is when we knew we had something big, and we knew we had to do something in great detail as far as the investigation,” he said.
        While he and partner Ron Nelson, 37, had examined the crash scene, that morning they backtracked Dean’s route. They learned he received a speeding ticket for going 65 mph in a 55-mph zone just hours before his death. In addition, the actor forced a Paso Robles man off the highway less than a minute before the crash.
        That same day, the Tulare Advance Register carried the only interview Turnupseed would ever give. “I looked but didn’t see him coming,” the 23-year-old Cal Poly freshman and former Navy veteran told the paper.
        Winton A. Dean, the actor’s 48-year-old father, drove up to Paso in a Warner Bros. limousine. He carried a change of clothes for his son’s body and met with Martin Kuehl at the mortuary on Sunday to collect the actor’s personal effects and to arrange for the body to be shipped to Indiana, where Dean was raised. By noon a group of 60 people gathered outside the mortuary.
        Officer Tripke took his report to Harry Murphy, 28, one of District Attorney Herb Grundell’s four assistants, on Monday. The key question was “who is the most to blame … and should there be prosecution or not,” Tripke recalled. “The D.A. didn’t want to prosecute without a coroner’s inquest.”
        That type of hearing, not uncommon in the 1950s, would determine if Turnupseed was negligent or criminally responsible for Dean’s death. If a jury thought so, Grundell, 58, would likely file a vehicular manslaughter charge.

        Determining responsibility for Dean’s death

        On Tuesday morning, Oct. 4, Sheriff-Coroner Paul E. Merrick ordered the inquest that was set for Oct. 11 in Paso Robles’ Civic Center at 10th and Park streets. The accident would be the first major case of the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office, which had been combined that January, the same time Merrick, 53, took office.
        A three-woman, nine-man jury of prominent North County residents was assembled and proceedings got under way at 10 a.m. Accounts vary on attendance at the three-hour hearing, from dozens to hundreds.
        Grundell and Murphy, who had joined the District Attorney’s Office in March, questioned witnesses. San Luis Obispo lawyer Peter Andre, 37, represented Turnupseed.

        Witnesses describe the scene

        Eight witnesses were called, starting with Paul Moreno, the 40-year-old Cholame ambulance driver, who testified that he found Dean lying over the passenger side of his low-slung, silver-gray Porsche, one foot caught in the driver’s pedals. Investigators believe Dean was driving when the crash occurred.
        The jury heard the deposition of Dr. Robert Bossert, 44, who chronicled Dean’s injuries: “fractured neck, multiple fractures of forearms, fractured leg and numerous cuts and bruises about the face and chest.”

        Rolf Wuetherich, mechanic and the passenger in James Dean’s car.

        Rolf Wuetherich, who was riding with Dean, was interviewed for a deposition several days after the crash. The Rev. Mello J. Galle of Paso’s Mennonite Church acted as translator for the German mechanic, who suffered a broken leg and jaw.
        Wuetherich, 28, described how he, Dean and two companions — who followed in a separate car — left Los Angeles about 1:50 p.m. and were later cited for speeding. They continued north on Highway 99 into Bakersfield before heading west on Highway 466 at speeds he estimated at 60-65 mph.
        Prosecutor Murphy asked if Dean had braked or tried to avoid Turnupseed’s car.
        “It is a bit dark to him,” said Galle, 72, “but it seems … that (Dean) tried to get by on the right.”
        “Did Dean say anything just before the accident?” Murphy asked.
        “Nothing — can’t recall,” Galle replied.
        The three CHP officers also testified. Tripke and his partner Nelson described the accident scene; how it was twilight at the time of the crash; the skid marks left by Turnupseed’s Ford and an interview with the Poly student. And Officer Otie V. Hunter provided two key facts about time and distance.
        He issued a speeding ticket to Dean at Metler Station at 3:30 p.m., and from there it was 107.8 miles to the crash site, facts that prosecutors would use to estimate the actor’s speed.
        Paso rancher Cliff Hord, 49, told how he’d been forced to swerve off the road to avoid a head-on collision with Dean seconds before the crash, as the actor was passing a westbound car.

        A revelation: Dean as passenger

        But it was the testimony from Shandon beekeeper Tom Frederick, 28, and his 15-year-old brother-in-law Don Dooley, that caused the biggest controversy. Dean was not driving the sports car, they said.
        Wuetherich, who was wearing a red T-shirt, was ejected and came to rest near the driver’s side of the car, while Dean, wearing a white T-shirt, remained in the car and was leaning toward the passenger side.

        Donald Dooley, student at Shandon High who witnessed the accident.

        “The car was still in motion after the accident, and I could see the man in the red T-shirt on the left side of the car,” Frederick said. “He was on the left (or driver’s) side of the car, closest to us.”
        District Attorney Grundell dismissed that line of discussion, telling the jurors the issue was not who was driving, but whether Turnupseed was responsible for causing the accident.
        “This court is interested first in, who is the deceased person, and how he came to his death,” he said. “It is not really material who had a white T-shirt on. What we want to find out is who this person was, and how he came to his death, whether there was negligence on the part of Mr. Turnupseed, or whether there wasn’t.”
        Grundell’s final observation concerned Dean’s speed. It took just over two hours for the actor to travel from where he was cited for speeding to where he crashed. “That would give you between 85 and 90 miles an hour for this distance and measurement,” he said, an estimate different from that of Wuetherich.

        A decision debated 50 years later

        Jury deliberations began at 12:30 p.m.; 20 minutes later jury foreman Don Orcutt Sr., 60, announced they had found “no indication that James Dean met death through any criminal act of another.”
        Turnupseed, 23, was exonerated. He would not even be cited, later raising accusations by Dean fans that the Tulare resident, who died 10 years ago, got a break.
        Ken Harris, one of four surviving jurors, said the panel believed Turnupseed wasn’t negligent.
        “He couldn’t see the car because of the time of day and the speed,” said Harris, 83. “He wasn’t at fault even though he was making a left turn and Dean had the right of way.”
        But the Paso resident still has questions about who was driving based on Frederick’s testimony and the position of the men after the crash.
        “Did the impact send the Porsche into a spin or cause it to somersault and toss Wuetherich onto the driver’s side of the car?” Harris said. “That’s a puzzle to me.”

        A question of speed

        Dean’s speed was a pivotal part of the jury’s rationale, said another juror.
        “We had the knowledge that he had been given a ticket earlier, and we knew that he liked to speed,” said Dorothy Schwartz, 92.
        Schwartz, who worked at radio station KPRL, which broke the news of Dean’s death, admits the inquest didn’t fully answer everything.
        “It was a little vague,” said Schwartz, who now lives in Palm Springs. “The testimony was clear, but there were some things that didn’t seem to add up to what we were expecting. We wanted everything to be clear and above board, and people were hemming and hawing and not giving direct answers.”
        But she believes Turnupseed was not criminally responsible. “There was never any doubt in any of our minds,” she said.
        Because of these and other questions, the jury’s decision remains controversial. Even the two investigators disagree about the outcome.
        Nelson can’t understand why the actor was partially at fault. “If Dean hadn’t died, Turnupseed would have got an automatic citation for a right-of-way violation,” said the Atascadero resident, who retired as a lieutenant in 1975. “He turned in front of the other car.”
        He also doubts that Dean was speeding when the cars collided.
        “Dean’s car only traveled 45 feet,” he said. “These guys that say Dean was traveling 90 miles an hour — it’s ridiculous, because he’d a been 300 feet out in the pasture and there would be nothing left of that aluminum car.”
        But Tripke thinks Dean’s speed and reckless driving caused the crash.
        “I think he was going well above the speed limit,” said the San Luis Obispo resident, who retired as a captain in 1976. “I feel I’m partially right on that because the D.A. was looking at it as maybe Dean was really speeding. That’s why we’re going to get some other people — twelve other people, his peers — to look at it and see what they say.”
        Although they did, Dean’s fame and the legends that grew out of his death virtually assured that there would always be unanswered questions about its circumstances.

        James Dean’s death casts a long shadow

          FOR SOME, SHADOW FROM DEAN’S DEATH INESCAPABLE
          Published: Sunday, October 2, 2005

          Donald Gene Turnupseed was exonerated from any criminal responsibility of the death of James Dean. But that didn’t mean that this intensely private man didn’t pay a price for his role in the famous accident. Turnupseed, then a Cal Poly student, drove his car into the path of Dean’s Porsche Spyder on Sept. 30, 1955.

          The Ford Donald Turnupseed was driving when he collided with James Dean. Photo by Sanford Roth, courtesy Seita Ohnishi

          “That’s something that bothered him his whole life,” Wally Nelson, president of Turnupseed Electric Service in Tulare, said last week in a phone interview.
          When asked to comment further about his former boss, Nelson sighed.
          “I just can’t believe they don’t let him die. Don was a private person, and I just want to keep it that way.”
          Turnupseed helped build the electrical contracting firm his parents began 58 years ago into a successful business known across the San Joaquin Valley with offices in Tulare, Bakersfield and Fresno.
          For most of his life he avoided talking about the crash. He died in July 1995 at age 63 from lung cancer.
          Turnupseed was born in Porterville and moved to Tulare, where he was reared. He later served six years in the U.S. Navy, including time aboard a hospital ship in Korea. He was a 23-year-old Cal Poly electrical engineering freshman living in Morro Bay at the time of the crash.
          San Luis Obispo lawyer Peter Andre was retained to represent the young man during the coroner’s inquest held a week and a half after Dean’s death.
          Jim Andre didn’t know his father played a role in the accident until a book mentioned Peter Andre by name in the mid-1980s.
          “I said, ‘Was it really clear-cut? Was it only Dean’s fault or was it the other kid’s fault?’” Jim Andre said, recalling what he asked his father. “Dad said it was an accident, and they both had some part in it.”
          After the coroner’s inquest, the accident was the subject of a civil suit, C.R. “Budgie” Sturgeon, a partner in Spuhler and Sturgeon Insurance, which had a policy on Turnupseed’s Ford, told the Tulare Advance-Register in 1995.
          “It was never established whose fault it was,” he told the paper. “It just died.”
          But Donald Turnupseed’s name will always be linked to the death of James Dean.
          They bore the badge

          Retired CHP officers Rob Nelson and Ernie Tripke, who were called to the scene of the accident. Courtesy photo

          Photo by Sanford Roth, courtesy Seita Ohnishi

          The two California Highway Patrol officers who figure most prominently in the case are county residents. A third has a South County vacation home.
          Ernie Tripke, 82, the lead investigator on the case, lives in San Luis Obispo. His partner, Ron Nelson, 87, a Pearl Harbor veteran who photographed the wrecked cars, lives in Atascadero. And Otie V. Hunter, who received Dean’s final autograph on the speeding ticket he issued to the actor, has a vacation home in Arroyo Grande.
          The trio are reluctant players in the mythology surrounding Dean’s death. Each is not a great fan of the actor, but through their recollections and on-the-job photos they have done much to keep alive the legacy of the 50-year-old accident.
          For years it came with the job, no matter where their CHP assignment took them. They have found no respite in retirement, as sometimes their reputations preceded them.
          For example, Tripke took a part-time job in 1988 at the California Conservation Corps. On his first day the young office manager needed no introduction to his new co-worker.
          “‘How do you know all about me, I just met you,’” Tripke recalled telling the man. “‘Well, I’m the president of the local James Dean fan club …’”
          A mortician’s memories
          Martin Kuehl, 84, is the mortician who took care of Dean’s body.
          Every year the lifelong Paso resident takes calls from people wanting to know about the role he played. Some callers seek what he and his wife call the “gory details” about the actor, who died of a broken neck. The simple answer is he doesn’t remember any of them.
          “I guess I should, but I don’t,” Kuehl said.
          His father opened the family mortuary at 17th and Spring streets in 1929, and Kuehl later assumed responsibility for the business, which he kept until 1971.
          “In this business you have to be your own psychiatrist. When you see things that are real bad … what you do is within the next 15 minutes, you make your mind forget it.
          “If you try to remember everything of everybody, you’d be in la-la land.”
          What one witness observed
          Tom Frederick witnessed the crash and is frequently sought for interviews. His story has been consistent for the past 50 years — Dean was the passenger. And over the years he has taken grief for it.
          “I’d just as soon hadn’t seen it,” said Frederick, 78, who lives in Fruitland, Idaho. “Now I know why witnesses don’t come forward. Because there is no end to it. And they didn’t do me any favors taking me into the inquest and … treating me like I should know more than I did.”
          A lesson in myth and reality
          On Sept. 30, 1955, Paso Robles policeman Bud Requa was nearing the end of his shift when he stopped by the mortuary to look at the city’s celebrity corpse.
          “He didn’t look bad,” recalled Requa, 75, whose wife, Marie, was one of the first people on the scene of the crash. “They had him partially covered with a sheet. … His chest was discolored, purple like a bruise. There was a little bit of blood around his head, but not bad.”
          More than 10 years later a young couple walked into the police department seeking information about Dean.
          “They said back east in a certain place — they named this hospital — (Dean’s) in confinement and seclusion there. He was really mangled badly, and he’s lucky to be alive,” Requa said.
          Dean was dead, he corrected them.
          “‘How do you know?’” they asked. “‘Because I saw him in the morgue.’
          “They looked at each other just like the world’s going to end tomorrow. They said thank you and they left.
          “What do you say to these people?”
          A family connection to the crash
          Sherry Spann is the granddaughter of Collier “Buster” Davidson, the attendant who was riding with Dean in the back of the ambulance when the actor is believed to have died. She grew up knowing about her family’s connection to the famous accident, but “nobody believes us when we tell people about it,” Spann said.
          Cancer claimed her grandfather in 1967; he is buried with his wife in the Shandon Cemetery, not far from where Dean crashed.
          Spann’s aunt is Helen Hopper, who is Davidson’s daughter. Hopper was living with her mother and father in Cholame in 1955. She said the accident upset her dad, but he shared little about the experience.
          Just hours after he returned from the accident, Davidson had made up his mind about one thing. “He wasn’t going to drive the ambulance again,” she said. “It was too much for him. I guess the sight of what they found and the whole situation just bothered him. It was horrible.”
          Karen Coombe’s 15 minutes of fame
          Karen Coombe’s mother, Kay, was the nurse who tried to help Dean as he lay dying in the crushed Porsche. Karen attended Paso Robles High School only long enough to get her picture in the yearbook. In it, she said she wanted to be a nurse like her mom and her older sister, Diane.
          Classmates remember that Karen told many at the Sept. 30, 1955, football game in Bakersfield that Dean had been killed. When school resumed after the Christmas break in early 1956, Karen had transferred to Santa Barbara High School.
          Ultimately she settled in a small Illinois town to be near her son and grandchildren. Cancer ended her life a few years ago.
          But she never forgot the night James Dean died.
          “This was my mom’s 15 minutes of fame,” said her son, Drew Seal of Rushville, Ill. “This was such a huge thing to her. It was just indelible. She always talked about that.”
          Two men’s tragic ends on a deadly highway
          Ken Hord was 13 years old and a passenger in his father’s car when Dean forced their Pontiac off Highway 466 seconds before he crashed into another car. Despite the near collision, later observing the actor’s bloody body, Hord rarely thinks of the crash.
          A few years ago he watched a television documentary that attempted to depict Dean as a “hero in that wreck,” the Creston resident said. “He was wrong. It’s unfortunate. He had a terrific career in front of him. It’s just lucky he took himself out and nobody else.”
          Hord’s father, Cliff, who was uninjured in the near-crash with Dean, would later die in his own automobile accident at age 85.
          The elder Hord was traveling east on Highway 46 West after a day of branding calves when fog obscured his vision atop the Green Valley grade just after 8 p.m. on March 31, 1991.
          “He couldn’t see,” his son said. “He got in that fog and just run off the road, up the bank and turned over.”
          James Dean’s crash ‘was just another case’
          Gary Hoving is one of the chief deputies in the Sheriff’s Department and the office’s unofficial historian. He was also a friend of the late Al Call, who represented the department in the Dean investigation.
          Hoving said Call told him the incident was not considered “that big of a deal” in 1955.
          “It was just another case. But it turned out to be one of the biggest traffic accidents in this country — if not the world. It was a bigger deal later,” Hoving said. “Everybody now knows about James Dean.”
          Monument to a legend

          Seita Ohnishi leads a toast to Dean at Stella’s Country Kitchen in Cholame, Oct. 1 1980.

          For the first 20 years after Dean’s death, makeshift monuments to the actor occasionally popped up — typically taped to the barbed wire fence near the intersection of Highways 41 and 46. That changed in September 1977 when Japanese businessman and Dean megafan Seita Ohnishi installed a monument around a tree near the cafe in Cholame. It reportedly cost $13,000 and reflected in its mirrored surface the crash site less than a mile away.
          The monument celebrates the life of Dean in three ways: “his agony, his glory and his tragic ending — all existing for eternity,” Ohnishi told The Tribune. “The monument itself forms a circle around the Tree of Heaven … and when viewed from a certain angle it takes the shape of the symbol for infinity. At the back, there is an angled cut for a life tragically incomplete.”
          He hopes the burnished stainless steel and aluminum work inspires fans to lobby for a posthumous Academy Award for Dean, who was nominated for best actor honors in “East of Eden” in 1955 and the next year in “Giant.”
          “If he never gets an Oscar, then at least he will have the memorial,” Ohnishi said. “However, I believe there is still a chance for an Oscar for Jimmy, so I am not going to give up.”
          His plans include setting up a Web site (OscarForJimmy.com) to display his collection of James Dean photos “so that his fans can truly enjoy his legacy.”

          REVISITING ONE OF THE BIGGEST NEWS STORIES TO OCCUR IN SLO COUNTY

          The James Dean memorial sits under a tree of heaven next to the Jack Ranch Cafe on Highways 41/46 in Cholame. David Middlecamp 8-24-05

          Jay Thompson has been a copy editor at The Tribune for 11 years, including three years as editor of The Cambrian. He became interested in James Dean’s death after reading a book about it. For this series, Thompson interviewed more than 70 people over seven months.

          Read more here: http://sloblogs.thetribunenews.com/slovault/2011/09/james-deans-death-casts-a-long-shadow/#storylink=cpy

            Jury Finds Dean Death Accidental

            October 11, [1955]
            PASO ROBLES,  Oct. 11– After deliberating only 24 minutes a verdict of “accidental death with no criminal intent” was returned in the coroner’s inquest into the death of movie star James Dean here this morning.
            Returning the verdict was Don Orcutt Sr., foreman.
            The Jury went out at 12:27p.m. to deliberate after hearing testimony of California highway patrolman O. Hunter of Bakersfield. Hunter made the arrest of Dean near Bakersfield on highway 99 for speeding at 3:30 p.m., two hours before the fatal accident occurred.
            Hunter fixed the distance from the place where he had given Dean a speeding ticket to the intersection of highway 41 and 466 where the movie star collided with the car of Harold Turnupseed, 24-year-old Cal Poly student of Tulare, at 108 miles.

            Tom Frederick of Shandon told of driving in back of the Turnupseed car which was coming off highway 41.
            Fredericks, a Shandon bee keeper and his brother-in-law, Donald Dooley, were traveling east when Turnupseed passed them at 60 miles an hour, the testimony brought out. Turnupseed slowed down to less than 40 miles an hour before he came to the intersection where the accident occurred.
            Fredericks said that Turnupseed appeared to attempt to get out of the path of the oncoming sports car.
            Dooley, who took the stand at his own request and Fredericks testified that Wuetherich had been the driver of the car. They said that Wuetherich had on a red tee shirt while Dean was wearing a white tee shirt.
            Wuetherich, now in a Glendale hospital, is unable to speak English but his statements were taken through an interpreter the Rev. M.J. Galle of the First Mennonite church of Paso Robles.
            Wuetherich said they had stopped at Blackwell’s corner for a soft drink and an apple while coming over 466 from Bakersfield. He said they stopped for Approximately 15 minutes.
            According to the coroner’s inquest this fixed the speed of Dean’s car at 85 to 86 miles per hour

              Santa Cruz Sentinel, 30 Sep 1995, Sat, Page 30

                The San Bernardino County Sun, 15 Jul 1995, Sat, Page 14