The following information is copied directly from the latest "Heartbeat 2016 " newsletter
1951 NASH AMBASSADOR AIRFLYTE 4-DOOR SEDAN
The car model that Meher Baba and his close one travelled in.
1952 MERCURY SEDAN 4-DOOR
The other vehicle driven by Anthony Joseph Palmieri
24 May 1952 - Day of the Accident
Saturday, 24 May 1952, was a pleasant misty morning. They had breakfast very early, at 4:30 A.M. and started driving at 5:45. Baba again cautioned Sarosh to drive close behind them. That morning, Baba was in a serious mood; he seemed preoccupied and was not in his usual hurry to be off. On the way, passing through Fort Smith, they crossed the Arkansas River and entered Oklahoma. At one point, Baba had Elizabeth stop the car, and getting out he paced up and down the highway for several minutes. Before proceeding, Baba again admonished Sarosh to be careful and attentive, and to stay close. Again Sarosh lost Baba's car, and met up with it in Sallisaw; there Baba instructed Sarosh to drive ahead. However, at Gore, Sarosh lost Baba's car and caught up with it at Warner.
Once they were on the road again, however, Baba ordered Elizabeth: "Drive fast!" and kept telling her to go "Faster, faster!" It had rained the night before, and the road was slick. They drove on over the rolling hills of eastern Oklahoma.
At 10:15 A.M., as they came over one hill, Elizabeth saw a car coming toward them on the wrong side of the road. She slowed down in the hope that as soon as the driver saw her, he would turn to avoid them. But he failed to stop, and collided with their car at full-speed. Just as the accident occurred, Elizabeth remembered Baba raising his left hand and pointing to the oncoming car, as if he were somehow directing the whole affair.
Baba was thrown clear out of the car and landed on his back in a muddy ditch on the side of the road. Blood flowed from his nose, which was broken; one arm and leg were fractured. Mehera and Meheru were also thrown from the car. Mehera had a deep gash in her forehead, and Meheru's wrists were fractured and sprained. Elizabeth was pinned behind the steering wheel with both her arms fractured and six or seven ribs broken. Mani, who had been dozing in the back seat, was the only one unhurt.
According to a police accident report filed at the time for insurance purposes, the accident occurred in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, on Route 62, 600 feet from the East County Road, near the town of Meeker, Oklahoma, approximately ten miles west of Prague.
The driver of the other car, Anthony Joseph Palmieri, 24 at the time, described how the accident occurred:
I was going east in my 1952 Mercury sedan, when I saw a truck stopped in front of me. So I slowed down. But when doing this, my brake froze on one side, which gave the car the tendency to turn left. In doing so I made a U-turn across the highway and off the road. Then the Nash came at a pretty good speed and hit me in the rear.
Palmieri drew this diagram to illustrate how the accident occurred.
According to Elizabeth's account:
Our party was on a motor tour from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to California. I was driving my Nash Statesman along the open road toward Oklahoma City, having passed Prague a few miles back. Suddenly, I saw a car coming at me, at a very high speed, toward Prague, or towards me. It swerved from its right side of the road in front of my car for no reason that I could see. I put on my brakes with all force, and gave the other car as much room as possible, and kept my car as far to the right-hand side of the road as I could without going into the ditch.
My car was hit very badly on the left front by the other car. I can only think that the other car was out of control, as I was later told that the car was owned by an ex-G.I. with an artificial leg.
It was true that Palmieri was a veteran of the Korean War, who had been injured in a missile attack. His left leg had been amputated, and he was driving a special car with hand brakes and accelerator. This was the first day he had used the car. With him in the car were his wife, Billie, and her mother, Mrs. Jane Hansen, both of Oklahoma City. (They were on their way to Arkansas to pick up Billie's son by a previous marriage, who spent the summers with his mother and grandmother in Oklahoma.)
The accident occurred directly in front of a small farm owned by a Czechoslovakian immigrant named Stanley J. Moucka. The postman had just put the mail in his mailbox (the truck that Palmieri saw stopped) when Moucka heard the accident and rushed outside. He brought blankets to cover Mehera and Baba. No one in Palmieri's car was injured. Mrs. Hansen had leapt out of the car. She went to Mehera and wiped her face with a handkerchief.
Elizabeth's car had gone off the road into Moucka's driveway. "It was a terrible sight," Moucka later remembered. Mrs. Hansen also said, "There was blood everywhere. It was horrible."
Meanwhile, a man taking his pregnant wife to the Prague clinic for a check-up drove past. Because the town had only one ambulance, he sent it back, along with a hearse.
Sarosh's car had not yet appeared on the scene. Due to the heat, Sarosh had stopped along the way to enjoy a cool drink. It was a stop he would regret for the rest of his life. When their car came upon the accident 15 or 20 minutes later, they were shocked by the sight. Rano, Goher, Delia and Kitty jumped from the car and ran to Baba. Goher was dazed, and began going back and forth between Mehera and Baba frantically. Baba indicated to Rano by hand signs that his arm and leg had been injured. Delia unpacked her small pillow and placed it under Baba's head.
"The anguish of that moment is unforgettable," said Delia later. "Baba's face with blood pouring from his head — his eyes just staring straight ahead as if into unfathomable distances. He made no sound nor sigh, just lay there motionless. Elizabeth was in the car doubled over the wheel. Her first question was, 'Is he alive?' "
Baba was lying on the soft dirt, bathed in blood. He had foretold that the soil of America wanted his blood and, in his infinite mercy, he was spilling it there.
It was as if a knife had impaled the heart of Age, as it watched the Living Christ bleeding helplessly on that Midwestern road. "O America!" it cried. "You thirsted for his blood, now quench your thirst! But remember to remind future generations, that along with his blood he also brought and left there the Divine Treasure."
Age listened and heard this silent message in reply from his Beloved: "My blood is shed only for those who continue to remember it and who experience love for the Beloved. My suffering will be their pain, which will always keep them with me. The blood is a sign of my love for the world. America is mine, and by suffering for it I am giving it love, so that it may keep its head bowed to me."
The ambulance and hearse arrived, and Baba, Mehera and Elizabeth were rushed to the clinic. Goher and Rano rode with Baba and Elizabeth in the ambulance, while Mani and Meheru accompanied Mehera in the hearse. As the newly-elected mayor of Ahmednagar, Sarosh's status now became useful. In America, a mayor is an esteemed government official, and thus immediate arrangements were made for this "visiting dignitary," and the police cooperated fully.
The small clinic in Prague was quite good, privately owned and run by Dr. Ned Burleson and his wife, Julia. Although Elizabeth was the first to be brought inside, the doctor quickly saw that Mehera was the most seriously injured, and so began treating her.
Here is Dr. Burleson's account:
The ambulance brought the victims of the accident into the hospital at about 11:00 A.M. It was such a mess. It took me hours to pick the pieces of broken glass, earth and grass out of their wounds before I could even begin to stitch them up. It was very bloody. I did not expect Mehera to live. She had suffered the worst skull fracture I had ever seen — like an egg shell dropped on the floor.
I went to work on her immediately, trying to save her life. After a while, members of Baba's party began coming into the room asking me to come and look at Baba.
I tried to ignore them and kept working on Mehera, but they became more insistent. "Baba this and Baba that," they said. Dr. Irani also began urging me to come and see about Baba. Of course, I had no idea who Baba was, and barely heard her because of the concentration on what I was doing. I did not know what they were talking about, but finally decided to go and see what all the noise was about and entered the adjoining room where Baba had been brought.
But as soon as I came in the doorway, Baba started grinning at me and smiling, so I figured he cannot be too badly hurt — until I found out later the extent of his injuries.
When I finally got around to attending to Baba, I was surprised to see an individual who was injured as badly as he was still smiling. I was also astounded to find that he did not speak a word or make any sound denoting discomfort. I assumed that he could not, but was informed by Dr. Irani that he did not speak because of a willful act.
I knew we were going to have to give him a general anesthetic (pentothal) to set his fractures, and suspected that he would say something at that time, but he didn't.
The most attractive quality of his personality that first day was the way he would look at me with those big brown eyes, as if he were reading my mind. Later I determined that the most astounding quality was that something which made it possible for him to receive such profound devotion and loyalty from so many fine and educated people. That quality cannot be forced. Such devotion can only be possible because he deserved it or earned it.
Two bones of Baba's lower left leg, his left arm at the shoulder and the septum of his nose were broken. His upper gums were injured and bleeding from the lower dentures he was wearing at the time of the accident. Don and Eruch had persuaded him to have them made before his trip to the West, and after the accident he almost never wore them again.
Baba remained conscious throughout, giving instructions. For example, that it was all right for the doctor and male technicians to touch Mehera. Baba was accommodated in Burleson's office; Goher slept near him. Mehera and Elizabeth were in a separate room, and Kitty and Rano looked after them. Meheru was in the waiting room.
Eruch and Pendu were in Hamirpur when they received the news. They immediately returned to Meherabad, where another telegram from Baba awaited them, instructing them not to abandon their tour but to continue with it as scheduled.
Eruch felt regretful for not accompanying Baba, as Baba had originally asked. Had he been present, he thought, perhaps he might have prevented or lessened Baba's suffering. Eruch had told Baba he was too exhausted from the New Life to travel to the West, but as he found out, the Andhra and Hamirpur tour was even more exhausting than a trip to America.
Don, Meherjee, Gustadji, Nilu and Adi reached Meher Mount in California on the evening of the 25th. On receiving the news by telegram in care of Malcolm Schloss, Don decided to fly to Oklahoma the next morning (although it was difficult to get a plane ticket at such short notice). The four Eastern mandali left that same night, and drove straight to Prague, arriving on the evening of 28 May.
Ivy, Charmian and Margaret also came immediately, arriving on the 25th.
The following is part of Ivy's account, from her personal journal:
Sarosh met us at the door of the hospital with Delia. They were haggard and spent. Sarosh burst into tears and exclaimed: "I shall have to kill myself — I can never face India again, for the thousands of devotees there will all feel I should have taken better care of the Master!"
I let him weep and then tried to point out that, as he was not even in the stricken car, he could hardly be held responsible. We went to see the patients and it was a terrible shock. Baba had broken His left arm just below the shoulder and the left lower leg had both bones broken in a jagged way. His face and nose were swollen from the fall.
Mehera had her skull fractured, her closed eyes looked like huge red beets, and she bore an ugly wound in her forehead. Elizabeth had both arms and some ribs broken, as she had been pinned behind the wheel.
Meheru had one fractured wrist, one badly-sprained wrist, assorted cuts and bruises. Mani was the least hurt, her feet and knees badly scratched, and limped with a cane. She did not eat for days and was overcome with grief and tormented that God had not given her as much to bear as the others (although she had recently had a severe operation).
Baba took my hand and then wrote on his board: "You must understand that this was God's will, and it will result in benefit to the whole world."
In the light of this, I could see that there was a reason why, although he and Mehera were hurled out of the right side of the car by the impact, he fell on his left side, and that it happened in the middle of the United States, although Mr. Duce had routed the first car here and planned a different route on the road maps for Baba's car, so as to take in the Grand Canyon.
I heard people say, "Baba must have planned it that way," but I cannot feel the Master would ever plan to hurt Mehera and the others. I think he just went forth to meet his crucificial destiny, for mankind's sake.
... Poor Baba had been put on a cot in the doctor's extra office, and he not only was in such pain, but could barely breathe because of his head being swollen with little blood clots from the fall. Each time we entered he would, out of delicacy for our feelings, throw a kerchief over his face and only show his eyes. Framed with his flowing hair, they looked indeed the eyes of the Christ. Rano or Sarosh or Goher would sit at the head of the cot and let their backs be used as headboards for Baba to sit up against, hour after hour.
Delia and I sent cables, tried to look after Mani, helped feed the patients, but Kitty could not be pried away from the room where Elizabeth and Mehera were, except to take a bath. She stayed at her post night and day, stretching out between the beds in the middle of the night for a short while on the floor. Delia and I helped with the feeding, rushing out for coffee and sandwiches. Charmian was asked by Baba to do the laundry for him and Mehera. Everything was covered with blood.
After a few days, Baba gave other instructions to Ivy and Charmian. With great difficulty (since one arm was completely useless, Ivy described), he spelled on the board: "Now for you two I have this important mission: that you both go immediately to San Francisco, see each of your group people and tell them about this accident which was purely God's and Baba's will ... [T]his had to happen by God's will and the result by God's will, will be good for the world. So explain this to each one of your group."
Ivy and Charmian were instructed to personally convey this to Malcolm, Agnes Baron, Mildred Kyle and John Bass, and then to return to Myrtle Beach on 10 July, further informing those on the West Coast: "Baba is definitely coming in July 1953 and your waiting for these months will bear better fruit."
As always, Baba was extremely mindful of Mehera, instructing Goher to take special care of her. Meherjee was with Baba from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.; Nilu from 7:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. Rano was also with Baba at night. Adi, whom Baba would call periodically, dozed on a couch outside. The others stayed in a local motel with Mani. Kitty was looking after Mehera and Elizabeth, and Margaret would give daily massages to the patients.
Although the hospital was small, Dr. Burleson made fine arrangements. He called in a few outside specialists from Oklahoma City to examine Mehera and take a look at the X-rays. Baba would often send Nilu to Dr. Burleson with some minor complaint, and the doctor would come. Baba would speak sweetly with him and smile. The doctor was highly impressed at finding Baba so happy despite his serious injuries, and was wholehearted in his attention to him.
Baba's leg was put in plaster, his arm in a sling and his facial wounds treated. Baba used to complain a lot about the plaster, but when the doctor was willing to remove it, Baba insisted it be kept on.
Baba remained in the Prague clinic for twelve days, before returning to Myrtle Beach. Don and Rano flew ahead to make arrangements. Adi, Gustadji, Mani, Meheru and Delia traveled in the station wagon and left early on Wednesday, 4 June 1952, the same day Baba and the others did.
Goher and Meherjee were with them. Elizabeth was carried in another ambulance with Kitty, Nilu and Charlene Kimery, a nurse from the hospital. Sarosh and Margaret followed them in another car. With his leg still in plaster and his arm in a sling, Baba covered the tiring distance virtually nonstop. On the 8th they reached Myrtle Beach, where Baba stayed in Elizabeth's house, Youpon Dunes, about eight miles south from the Center. Adi and his group had arrived the evening of the 6th.
Before leaving Prague, Baba gave Dr. Burleson a silver cigarette case (which Sarosh had purhased in Oklahoma City). Sarosh also sent the Burlesons a leopard skin, and a few years later Baba mailed the doctor a signed copy of God Speaks. Dr. Burleson's wife Julia would send Mani a Christmas card every year and correspond with her.
Recovering in Myrtle Beach, Baba was kept in an air-conditioned room at Youpon Dunes. The women stayed in the house with him, the men at the Center. Nilu attended Baba during the night and the others during the day. Adi gave him regular sponge baths with Meherjee's help. Meherjee would somehow contrive to make Baba eat. Kitty cooked for Baba, Elizabeth's cook Bessie, with Ruano's help, prepared meals for the women, and the men dined out.
On Friday, 13 June 1952, Baba dictated the following message for his lovers around the world:
The personal disaster, for some years foretold by me, at last happened while crossing the American continent — causing me through facial injuries, a broken leg and broken arm, much mental and physical suffering. It was necessary that it should happen in America. God willed it so.
It brings to fruition the first part of the circular which said that until July 10, in the Complicated Free Life, weakness would dominate strength and bindings would dominate freedom; but from July 10, in my Full Free Life, strength would dominate weakness and freedom would dominate bindings; and then from November 15, in my Fiery Free Life, both strength and weakness, freedom and bindings would be consumed in the fire of divine love.