There are many questions that still remain on what actually happened the night Susan Traub was killed in Ethiopia. Most of the details of the tragedy are now, however, lost in the fog of history.

What we all (collectively) recall is that on this rainy night in September of 1967, Charles and Susan were being transferred by bus to have dinner and orientation at another hotel. They had arrived at the parking space in front of the hotel and at the bottom of a hill when a police truck up the street careened out of control. Some say it was rolling backwards down the hill from a local police station; others think the driver had lost control by hitting the gas pedal and not the brake. Dave Berlew, the CD in Ethiopia at the time, and who was at the scene, has the impression the brakes had failed on the vehicle, and that truck was empty. “A drunken policeman wouldn’t have surprised me,” Dave wrote me recently, “but if there was one, none of us saw him.”

What Dave also remembers is that Susan was hit and was stuck under the back right wheels of the bus, and as you might expect, her husband was beside himself. A group of PCVs, bystanders, and hotel staff tired to lift the bus and get Susan out from under the wheels. “As I remember,” Dave writes, “we did get her out without having to roll the bus off. She was in terrible shape and must have been evacuated, but today, nearly 50 years later, I can’t remember if I saw her or her husband again.”

My own memory of that night was that I arrived at the hotel after the accident. I went to the hospital, which was run by American missionaries, and where there were a cluster of Peace Corps staff waiting. I remember being briefed about Susan by Doctor RobertMayer, our Peace Corps doctor, who writes me now that “I don’t recall the death of Susan Traub-it must have been handled by someone else in the Peace Corps Medical Officer or else the passage of time has erased the event from my aging mind.”

What Dave remembers clearly is that the majority of new PCVs, not surprisingly, were traumatized by the accident. “The next day, I began interviewing them to check their readiness to be sent to their assignments. At least a dozen, mostly couples, as I remember, said they wanted to go home, and they expected their way to be paid, which, of course, was against Peace Corps policy.

“Without getting PC/Washington’s permission, I told the PCVs who wanted to go home, or expressed real fear about being sent to the field, that if they would accept their assignments and stay at least six weeks, if they still wanted to go home the Peace Corps would pay their way. I remembering cabling PC/W and telling them of the deal I had made, and was told I didn’t have the authority to make such a commitment. I answered that if they refused to back my decision, they could replace me. They said OK. In the end, I think all of the PCVs in question stayed in Ethiopia.”

And David Berlew stayed as well. He is a first rate human being and was a first rate Peace Corps Country Director.

Part Three