The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By David Stevens

Pages past, May 19: Grady school bus crash left teenager dead


Last updated 5/18/2021 at 3:44pm

On this date …

1931: About two dozen Grady school children were recovering from injuries suffered the day before in a school bus accident that left one teenage girl dead.

Cletis Culpepper, 16, a Grady High sophomore, was killed. Several children suffered broken arms and legs, officials said.

Bus driver E.C. Ashby said he was driving about 35 mph in the center of the rural road when the wheels of the bus “locked,” sending the bus rolling into a ditch 3 miles east of Grady.

The top of the bus was “torn off and hurled several feet from the wreck,” the Portales Valley News reported. “The body of the Culpepper girl was found near the top.”

Ashby was among those seriously injured with one hand badly cut, but he succeeded in freeing two children trapped under the bus before help arrived. Ashby refused treatment until all the children were taken to area hospitals, the Clovis Evening News-Journal reported.

Officials said commencement exercises had already been held at Grady, but classes continued to make up for two days lost during snow storms early in the year.

A coroner's inquest was held two days after the wreck and Ashby was absolved of blame.

“More than 20 witnesses were questioned in the inquest and their testimony was that the accident was unavoidable and that Ashby was in no way to blame,” the Clovis paper reported.

1961: Much of eastern New Mexico and west Texas had received rain for the first time since April 7, but the storm also brought damaging hail.

In Clovis, the rain “fell in torrents,” the Clovis News-Journal reported, with measurements near 3/4 of an inch.

“The hail storm was brief, but for about five or ten minutes Clovis was peppered with moth ball size stones,” the paper reported.

Bovina may have been hit hardest. G.D. Anderson reported hail piled up 8-10 inches deep on the highway between Bovina and Farwell, and some windshields were knocked from cars. “It's one of the most devastating hails I've seen,” Anderson said.

The newspaper reported hail across Parmer County was the size of hen eggs, damaging wheat and cotton crops. Bovina saw a “one-hour deluge” of rain and water stood “several inches deep” in farmers' fields.

1971: Burglars ripped open a skylight above Town and Country Men's Store at 308 Main in Clovis and took an estimated $10,000 worth of clothes.

A security patrolman caught them in the act and chased them from the scene, but they escaped in a car.

Police Detective Lance Somers said the burglars likely used a tire tool to pry open the skylight.

Pages Past is compiled by David Stevens. Contact:

[email protected]


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