In 1969, La Jolla was still a sleepy beach town and pretty much unknown to the country, let alone the world. There was a 5 & 10 store, Safeway market (that everyone worked at), small hardware store, a few shoe stores, and Walker Scotts was the upper end of clothing.
The average home sold for $39,000. There were no MacMansions, but small, almost cottage like homes. Downtown La Jolla did not look like Rodeo Drive, and living on top of the hill was considered country living. La Jolla had its own movie theater with Saturday matinees that cost $1.50.
Everyone knew each other and La Jolla High had about 600 students.
But that all changed on June 3, 1969 when this horrible tragedy put La Jolla on the map. The media jumped on this and just about every paper carried this story for weeks.
The culture change of the hippies, protesters, drugs, Make Love, Not War, shocked La Jolla ‘once was’ quite and secluded town. La Jolla got its fame, but not like they wanted!
The article says it all. One got a bottle of laughing gas and got three more students who also wanted to get a quick high. And at the bottom of Bird Rock Avenue, locked the doors of a sports car, rolled up the windows, and opened the valve.
Instantly two died. Two managed to escape.
The teenagers where found by police who were called when residents heard a loud almost hysterical voices coming from the car. Police when arriving found the body of Clare Herick, 18, and Peter Strata, 17 in the back seat. Both were pronounce dead at the scene.
Nora Ruffcorn, 16 was found in the front seat and taken to the hospital in serious condition. Brad Hunter, 17, was outside the car and leaning against it. He was taken into custody after being treated and released at the local hospital.
Editors Note: Nora is married, has kids and lives up north and doing well. Brad Hunter’s whereabouts is unknown at this writing.
Article from Google Archives.