On the night of November 19, 1940, Deputies Ezra Stanley and Carl Pryor were patrolling along Pacific Coast Highway between Sunset Beach and Huntington Beach when their car was struck from behind. Ray Dolan, a Huntington Beach café operator, was driving the car.
The car was knocked into a post that was part of a wire fence along the highway. The front bumper was torn off by the post and the car skidded as the gas tank caught fire. The car finally came to rest 152 feet from the point of impact.
Deputy Pryor was either knocked from the car or he crawled from it, but his efforts to free Deputy Stanley were unsuccessful. Deputy Stanley was unconscious and wedged tightly in the car. The vehicle was completely burned from the dashboard to the rear. Deputy Stanley was burned beyond recognition and Deputy Pryor was hospitalized with burns and other injuries.
Dolan, who had been drinking with friends, claimed the accident was a head-on collision and he didn’t know how it happened. He was arrested by Huntington Beach Police for negligent homicide and drunk driving. The Coroner’s jury determined the cause of death as “being burned to a char while in the discharge of his duties as a Deputy Sheriff.” The jury found the cause to be “negligence on the part of Dolan in operating his automobile.”