Last week we posted photographs of a 1967 automobile mishap on the Fort Pitt Bridge and asked for help in locating the wrecked vehicle’s driver, a man named Gerald T. Clark of McKees Rocks.
Well, we’ve had no luck with that. But we did hear from someone else in the photographs — a slender young man wearing an unbuttoned shirt with rolled sleeves. He appears in three pictures but can be seen most clearly in the above image, walking away from the overturned Chevrolet as it begins to catch fire.
That young man is Bill Luete of the South Side (in Monday’s print edition of the Post-Gazette, he was misidentified as driver Clark). Luete was 16 years old at the time and driving from his Sheraden home to the Golden Triangle. He remembers Clark passing him, then passing a tractor-trailer rig. At that point, Clark lost control of his automobile.
The vehicle came to rest on its roof, blocking the ramp leading from Carson Street to the Fort Pitt Bridge. Luete jammed on his breaks and then watched as Clark climbed out of the overturned car. “He was in total shock,” Luete remembers. “He was fine, though. Back then, cars were built. The roof didn’t crush. Nothing caved in.”
Clark’s Chevy weighed well over 3,000 pounds, yet was turned upright by Luete and several other men. “When you’re younger, you have testosterone and you can do those things,” he says.
The next day, Luete’s mother called out to him, “Bill, you’re in the paper!” Indeed, his image graced page one of the Post-Gazette. “She still has that paper,” he says. “I wish I still looked like that. I was so skinny.”