Fascinating True Stories From the Flip Side of History

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Blind Man Lets Young Brother Steer (1949)

(This story was originally written and recorded for Podcast #65, released on August 19, 2013.)

It was reported on July 18, 1949, that 26-year-old Nelson E. Schultz was driving a truck at 7:30 in the morning on a dirt road 3-1/2 miles west of Cashtown, Pennsylvania.  Passengers in the vehicle included his mother, wife, and four brothers and sisters.  They were on their way to pick cherries.  

But there was a problem. Nelson was legally blind and could not see the road.  So, he sat his 11-year-old brother Merle on his lap and allowed him to steer. Since Merle was too short to reach the truck’s pedals, older brother Nelson handled that part.  

With a boy steering and a blind man controlling the gas and brake, it should come as no surprise that the truck flipped over.  Sadly, their 4-year-old brother Barry was killed.  Everyone else, except for the blind driver Nelson, was injured, although none seriously.

Police charged the younger half of the driving duo with driving without a license and the older half with permitting an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.

A grand jury later handed down a charge of involuntary manslaughter against the older brother for which he was found guilty and given a 3-year suspended sentence.

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