Injured golf star Ben Hogan spends two months in El Paso’s Hotel Dieu hospital
In 1949, champion golfer Ben Hogan was injured in a car accident near Van Horn. He and his wife were brought to El Paso, where Hogan spent nearly two months at Hotel Dieu.
Following is the Feb. 3, 1949, El Paso Times article on the crash:
Ben Hogan hurt in crash, improves;
golf star to recover, say doctors
Ben Hogan, golf’s Mighty Mite, Wednesday night was showing improvement in Hotel Dieu after eight critical hours following a car-bus collision on U.S. Highway 80, 29 miles east of Van Horn, at 8:30 a.m.
A bulletin issued by the medical staff called in to diagnose Hogan’s injuries said he had received a fractured pelvis, collarbone and rib in the collision. He was rushed the 109 miles to El Paso after a delay of more than an hour and a half in obtaining an ambulance.
The man who was last year’s top money winner among professional golfers is starting a long road back to recovery and the golf links. Doctors said he would play again, but they would make no predications as to how soon Hogan would be able to leave the hospital.
Mrs. Hogan, who received a cut over her right eye and minor bruises in the crash, was under sedatives and resting in the home of an El Paso physician throughout the afternoon, before returning to a downtown hotel.
Mrs. Hogan stunned by impact
Mrs. Hogan said she was stunned by the impact and regained consciousness to find her husband stretched across her unconscious. Luggage from the back seat pinned the couple against the dashboard of the badly wrecked car.
“I stuck my arm out of the window and screamed for help, but none came,” she said. “Finally, when Ben began to stir and moan, I somehow found strength enough to push the luggage away and get out. Then I helped Ben out of the wreckage.”
The injured golfer’s brother, Royal Hogan, Mrs. Ralph Waters, sister of Mrs. Hogan, and Dr. Howard Ditto arrived in El Paso by American Airlines from Fort Worth, Wednesday afternoon. The party rushed immediately to the hospital to learn that earlier reports that Hogan had received a broken back were incorrect.
El Paso physicians attending Hogan were Dr. Leopoldo Villareal, Dr. Lester C. Fenner and Dr. David Cameron.
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Visibility cut by fog
Hogan was driving his 1949 Cadillac east on U.S. 80 when the accident occurred. The highway was icy and visibility was cut by fog to 150 to 200 feet. A Greyhound bus, bound for El Paso from Dallas, reportedly was passing a truck when Hogan’s car appeared suddenly out of the murk.
Unable to return to the right side of the road, the bus, driven by Avin H. Logan, Pecos, Texas, sheared the driver’s side of the car and badly wrecked the vehicle.
The truck, to avoid hitting the bus, stopped suddenly and jack-knifed on the icy pavement to a cross-ways position. Before signal flares could be placed on the highway, two more cars hit the truck. Only Hogan received serious injuries. The bus was not badly damaged, Greyhound officials said.
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Mrs. Hogan told reporters that her husband had saved both their lives by throwing himself in front of her when he saw the impending collision.
“We were driving slowly,” Mrs. Hogan said, “because the road was hazy Ben tried to swerve out of the way to miss the bus, but there was a culvert at the roadside, and we couldn’t get off the road.
“We crashed head-on. Ben threw himself in front of me, to protect me. That saved his life, for the engine of our car was tossed into the set and the steering gear was shoved into the backseat.”
Because of confusion at the accident, no one notified an ambulance for over an hour, Mrs. Hogan said.
“It seems that everyone thought someone else had called for help,” she explained.
The Hogans were returning to their Fort Worth home from Phoenix, Ariz., where Hogan lost to fellow Texan Jimmy Demaret in a playoff in the $10,000 Phoenix Open Championship.
Hogan starts trip home
Hogan was pushed to the train in a wheelchair March 31, 1949, for his trip home to Fort Worth:
He appeared in good spirits and smilingly posed for cameramen. He was obviously excited at the prospect of reaching his new home in Fort Worth.
Accompanying him were his wife, Valerie, his brother, Paul, and Dr. Howard Ditto, Fort Worth physician, who came here to make the return trip.
Before moving into his room for the night he said he was certain that he was out of the rough and again headed down the fairway.
Back on course
Hogan won PGA Tour events 13 times after his accident, including six majors. Hogan died in 1997, at the age of 84.
Trish Long may be reached at [email protected] or 915-546-6179.