(Editor’s note: The below article, written by Mindy Mozer, appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Jan. 20, 1993. Recent attempts by the Register to reach snowplow driver Charles Pence were unsuccessful.)
IOWA CITY – Charles Pence slammed on his brakes but the collision with Iowa basketball star Chris Street was unavoidable.
“I didn’t have time to honk the horn,” Pence said. “I hit the brakes but I had no place to go.
Street was killed Tuesday night when Pence’s snowplow struck his car broadside. The accident happened about 6:49 p.m. on Highway 1, at the Highlander Inn drive. Johnson County Medical Examiner T.T. Bozek pronounced Street, an Indianola native, dead at the scene. He would have turned 21 years old Feb. 2.
Pence said the accident happened so quickly that it is hard for him to sort through the details. He remembers seeing a car pulling slowly onto the highway from the Highlander Inn exit.
“He wasn’t in a hurry,” Pence said. “If he had been in a hurry, he would have missed me.”
Lt. Matt Johnson from the Iowa City Police Department said Pence was driving a Johnson County snowplow northbound on Highway 1 when Street drove a Chrysler LeBaron onto the highway.
The straight blade on the snowplow slammed into Street’s car and propelled it across the median into a car driven by Thelma Frauenholtz. Frauenholtz of rural West Branch was driving south on Highway 1.
A passenger in Street’s car, University of Iowa student Kimberly S. Vinton, 20, of Indianola, was taken by ambulance to University Hospitals. Vinton, Street’s girlfriend, was in fair condition with multiple injuries this morning.
Johnson said Vinton was out of the car when rescue workers arrived. He did not know how she got out.
Frauenholtz, 59, was treated and released at Mercy Hospital with minor injuries. Pence, 28, who was on his way to his rural Iowa City home at the time of the accident, was not hurt.
“From preliminary reports, it appears that Chris pulled out in front of the snowplow,” Johnson said.
Frauenholtz said she had just left her job at Seabury & Smith, an insurance claims processing company, and was driving to the ExpresStop north of the Highlander to get gas.
Frauenholtz was at a complete stop, waiting for traffic to pass so she could cross the highway. The next thing she remembered was seeing Street’s car tumbling across the median into her car.
“I just believe that God protected me,” Frauenholtz said this morning. “It all happened so fast. I am still a little shaky.”
No one knows if Street saw the snowplow. Pence said the Hawkeye star may have been watching the southbound traffic when he drove into the intersection. Skies were clear and the highway was not snow or ice-covered. Police are still putting the pieces together.
Rescue workers arrived at the scene to find Street’s car upside down with Street lifeless in the driver’s seat. Johnson said Street had visible head wounds. He did not know if he and Vinton were wearing seat belts.
About five Iowa City police officers, several Johnson County Sheriff deputies and an Iowa City fire department crew were on the scene for several hours. Highway 1 was blocked and traffic was rerouted.
Street and his teammates had been at the Highlander Inn eating dinner, a tradition the night before a game. The Hawkeyes were scheduled to play Northwestern tonight but the game was postponed.
Capt. Pat Harney said Street was one of the last players to leave the restaurant. He was on his way to a night class.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball