"Flying blubber claim paid"


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A mere 11 days after a 3-foot chunk of flying whale blubber smashed in the roof of Walter Umenhofer’s brand new Oldsmobile, the State Highway division’s insurer reimbursed him for his loss, as reported in this November 23, 1970, article in the Eugene Register-Guard.

Flying blubber claim paid

Monday, November 23, 1970

Walter Umenhofer, the Springfield man whose late-model sedan was crumpled by a chunk of flying whale, said Monday he has received a check for the full retail value of the car from the insurance carrier for the State Highway Division.

The roof of Umenhofer’s 1969 Oldsmobile was crushed Nov. 12 when a piece of a whale dynamited on the beach at Florence landed on his car in a beachside parking lot.

Umenhofer, who lives at 2537 N. Fifth St., Springfield, had praise for the promptness of the settlement from Pacific Indemnity Group and called the undisclosed amount “very satisfactory.” But he remains critical of the State Highway Division’s methods and precautions in disposing of beached whales.

State workmen placed 1,000 pounds of explosives under the 45-foot-long whale in an attempt to reduce it to pieces which would be eaten by scavengers. The three-foot-square piece which struck Umenhofer’s car, as well as a [sic] numerous smaller pieces, flew over the heads of a number of spectators who had gathered on the beach a mile south of the Siuslaw River.

Umenhofer said demolitions experience in the service prompted him to watch the blast from considerably further away than the point where other spectators were being restrained, because he felt the shot was improperly placed and overloaded.

“They’re just lucky they didn’t kill somebody,” he concluded.

© 1970 Eugene Register-Guard