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Keith James Coffin

Posted 2011-06-10 by Pat R
Wickenburg (AZ) Sun
Friday, January 1, 1960, p 1 & 8

Five Die After 4-Car Accident Christmas Eve

Five persons died and three were injured as the result of a 4-car accident two miles this side of Wittmann the afternoon before Christmas. Four persons, all members of the same family, were instantly killed or died enroute to a Phoenix hospital. The fifth person, a passenger in another car, died later in a Phoenix hospital.

Alfred Tristan Coffin, 63, his wife, Evelyn, 49; his son, Keith, 16; and his sister-in-law, Anne Coffin, 54, all of Burbank, Calif., were the victims in one car. Mrs Peggy Clayton, 16, of Modesto, Calif., who was a passenger in a second car driven by her husband, Ray Clayton, 18, died later in Phoenix. Injured were Mr Clayton and the driver of the third car, Michael Mahoney, 18, and his passenger, Roy Bransford, 46, both of Phoenix. Mahoney is in critical condition in Community Hospital here. The other two are in a Phoenix hospital.

A coroner's jury Wednesday afternoon placed the blame for the five deaths on young Mahoney. Barry Rutledge, deputy county attorney, told The SUN Wednesday that five felony counts of manslaughter will be filed against Mahoney. Jurymen were George Dillard, Russell Stone, Alex Lawson, Ira Rice, Lambert Humphries and Ben Lukl.

Highway Patrolman Bill Hanger says that Mahoney "had been drinking" and that he was driving "at an excessively high rate of speed." He says investigation revealed that Mahoney was also driving with a restricted license which permitted him to drive only between his home and work. "No pleasure driving" was written on the back of his license by an officer of the driver license division hearing board. This restriction, he said, was the result of Mahoney's accumulation of five traffic citations including reckless driving and speeding.

According to Highway Patrolman Bill Hanger, who investigated the accident, the Coffin family was enroute to Phoenix to spend Christmas with a son. Mr & Mrs Ray Clayton were enroute to Coolidge to spend Christmas with her parents.

Mr Clayton told officers he was driving toward Phoenix when another car attempted to pass him. He believes his car was sideswiped causing the other car to crash head-on into an auto going toward Wickenburg. Clayton's auto left the road and went into a ditch.

Bransford said he was asleep in the back seat of the car driven by Mahoney. He said that when he awoke he was on the pavement.

Officer Hanger gave this version: Mahoney was headed west when his car crossed the line and collided head-on with the eastbound Clayton station wagon which crashed off the roadway. The Mahoney car swung around and struck the westbound car of Ben Stern of Phoenix in the left rear knocking Stern off the road. The Mahoney car then struck the eastbound Coffin sedan head-on. Stern was not injured.

Funeral services for members of the Coffin family were held Tuesday afternoon in the Sunnyslope Presbyterian Church. Mrs Anne Coffin was buried in Greenwood Memorial Park, Phoenix. The other members of the Coffin family were sent to Burbank for burial.

See Also: Find A Grave

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