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DeKalb County Indiana Obituary

Richard A. Holdeman and Sally Openlander
Contributed by Marlaina Fritz Barr

The Evening Star, Auburn, Indiana  April 1962

Richard A. Holdeman, 43, and Miss Sally Openlander, 22, both of Auburn, Lose Lives in Crash Near Waterloo

DeKalb county's rocketing highway death toll reached eight for 1962 early Monday morning with the death of Richard A. Holdeman, 32 of 211 West Fourth street, Auburn, Indiana.   The death of Mr. Holdeman was the fifth recorded in the county since Friday, four of them on railroad grade crossings.

The Auburn man died at the Dr. Bonnell M. Souder Hospital in Auburn at 12:20 a.m. Monday from injuries suffered in an auto-train mishap which also claimed the life of Miss Sally Openlander,22, of 215 1/2 West Fourth Street, Auburn.

The DeKalb county sheriff, Dorise Likens, who investigated the accident along with State Troupers Eisenhut, Carpenter and Reese and the DeKalb county coroner, Dr. Floyd Coleman of Waterloo, said the accident occurred at 10:20 p.m. Sunday on County Road 26 at the New York Central railroad crossing.  The scene of the mishap is located 3.2 miles east of Waterloo and approximately 100 feet south of U.S. 6  The county road veers upward sharply to the crossing and then sharply down again.

The sheriff said the Auburn young woman was killed instantly in the collision.  

The 1959 Ford four-door owned and driven by Mr. Holdeman was headed south while the train, a 100-car freight train, was proceeding west.   Investigation at the scene revealed that there were no skid marks laid down by the car at the crossing indicating that the car had either stalled at the crossing or had attempted to beat the train  to the crossing.  

The car was demolished in the mishap and there was an estimated $500 damage to the engine of the freight train.  Sheriff Likens said the impact had spun the car around and had thrown both occupants from the car.  Miss Openlanders body was thrown approximately 50 feet from the scene of the crash while Mr. Holdeman was thrown approximately 10 feet further.

The state police reported that the engineer of the train said he had no chance to avoid hitting the car or of giving a warning of the crash.   The engine crew said they saw no lights from the car and did not see the vehicle until they were less than 30 feet from the automobile.  They reported that the automobile had nearly passed over the crossing and that only the extreme rear part
of the car was over the tracks.

The Auburn man was rushed to the hospital in Auburn in the Graffis ambulance from Waterloo.  He suffered multiple fractures to the right leg, cuts about the head and face, chest and spine injuries and internal injuries.  Miss Openlander was killed instantly from a fractured skull.

The body of Mr. Holdeman was removed to the Gerig funeral home in Auburn where friends may call after 7 P.M. Tuesday.  Final arrangements are incomplete but the Rev. Miles A. Freeman will officiate at the services and burial will be at Woodland Cemetery, near Auburn.

Mr. Holdeman was born at Great Falls, Montana on Nov. 6, 1918, the son of Eugene and Josephine Holdeman, with whom he resided in Auburn.  He moved with his parents to Auburn in 1943 and was self-employed as a broker and buyer of oil field machinery.

Surviving in addition to the parents are two brothers, Robert Holdeman of 216 North Division street, Auburn, and James Holdeman of Casper, Wyoming, and a sister, Mrs. Jo Ann Fritz of Houston, Texas.  

Mr. Holdeman was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Auburn.

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