This post is closely based on post to our facebook group by Ted Taylor.
Today is the appropriate day because this is the day it all happened – and the World Cup Rally came close to having an appalling incident though what happened was bad enough.
At the time of my organising WCR40, out of the blue Ted received a massage from Marcelo E Virgili about the Cowan/Coyle.Ossio accident.
He wrote “In 1970, I lived in Salta, Argentina, and worked as a surgeon in Emergency Services of Hospital San Bernardo there. I had just graduated from medical school the year before.We received the ambulance that brought Andrew Cowan, Brian Coyle and Ulderico Ossio, from the site of their accident in the tortuous roads along the slopes of the Northwestern Andes Mountains.”
The following is what Andrew said to Marcello which I have edited a very little for easier reading (though his English is excellent …… better than my non existent Spanish!)
I had just taken the driver’s seat from Ulderico Ossio
We were driving along a straight road at more than 100mph and catching up with Jean Denton’s Austin 800. My vision was obscured by the dust lifted by the car’s wake – the typical red dirt from the Calchaqui Valleys.
I slowed down to 70mph to take a turn.
Coming out from that turn the sun, which was just coming up over the horizon, hit me right in the face and I couldn’t see another turn immediately following … and we went straight over the cliff.
The news clipping showing the photos talks about the accident and their ensuing medical care. I am endeavoring to get it all translated into English.
Marcello says that eventually Andrew, Brian and Ulderico were air-lifted to Buenos Aires and they all made good recoveries. They sent him a case of good Scotch!
The picture of medical team are the doctors from the hospital where Macello worked – he is in the youngest one in the first row on the left in the glasses. I did pass this on to Andrew at the time and had hoped Andrew would still be with us so that he and Marcello would perhaps meet up at WCR50.
Another account of this crash written by Brian Robins in his book ‘The Great Rally’ follows over the page.