Cry to ‘Hang On’ Fails as Two Are Swept to Death
After clinging helplessly to the roof of their car, a Newton father and his young daughter were swept by flood waters to their death along US24 two miles east of Stratton, Colorado. Dead are Kenneth Spoonemore, 39, and six-year-old Corinne of 222 Columbus, Newton. The mother, Priscilla, and an older daughter, Judith, 16, were able to swim to safety. Colorado Trooper George McNeill said Mrs. Spoonemore and Judith were in fair condition, but suffering severe shock, at a Burlington, Colo. hospital Saturday night. The family struggled to the roof of their westbound car shortly after midnight Friday when the vehicle was pushed from the road into a ditch by the flood. The area was drenched in rain up to eight inches during the night. The flash floods forced closing the US24 between Stratton and Bethune, near the Kansas border, for several hours.
The Spoonemore family was enroute to visit a daughter, Mrs. Roy Shostak, of Polson, Mont. Judith told McNeill her father had been driving slowly because of the heavy rains and at one time stopped because visibility was extremely poor. After they continued on, the swirling waters tossed the car sideways, and Spoonemore yelled to the others to ‘hang on,’ Judith told McNeill. McNeill said the Spoonemores were swept off the highway in an area where drainage waters backed up forming a “large pond.” Waters reached a depth of 12 to 14 feet, he said.
The Spoonemores appeared to have been traveling alone on the highway, McNeill said. There were no reports of other motorists caught in the flood. McNeill said the Spoonemores either were washed from the top of their car or decided to swim for safety when it appeared waters would continue to rise. The car was submerged, the Trooper said. Mrs. Spoonemore and Judith were able to swim out of the high waters and reach a farmhouse. McNeill said Mrs. Spoonemore and Judith found no one at home at the farmhouse, but went inside and used the telephone to get help. The women said they tried unsuccessfully several times before they could get the telephone to work. When they reached authorities, they had difficulty, being unfamiliar with the area, explaining their location. Rescuers reached Mrs. Spoonemore and Judith by boat. The women told McNeill they did not see Spoonemore and the other girl after they were separated from the car.
The bodies of Spoonemore and Corinne were recovered between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. Saturday 75 to 100 yards from the car. In addition to the three daughters, the Spoonemores have two sons, Kenneth L. Jr., of Newton, and George stationed with the Armed Forces in Korea. By Connie Miles for The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson Kansas. Sunday, August 24, 1969. Page 1.
Kenneth L. Spoonemore, 39, of Newton, drowned Sunday near Stratton, Colo. Born March 3, 1930, at Parker, S.D., he married Priscilla McCormick. He had lived here one year, moving here from Olympia, Wash. Survivors include the widow; mother, Mrs. Josephine Spoonemore, Mt. Hope; daughters, Mrs. Roy Shoftak, Polson, Mont.; Judith, of the home; sons, George, Korea; Kenneth Jr., Newton; sister, Mrs. Delbert Aulner, Sioux Falls, S.D.; brothers, Arthur, Mt. Hope; Howard, Edward, Leonard and Louis, all of Sioux Falls, S.D. Funeral will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at Peterson Funeral Home, Newton; Rev. Loren Anderson. Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery, Newton. Friends may call at the funeral home. The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson Kansas. August 16, 1969.