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By Rampart Stonebridge, updated on January 26, 2024

Herbert Coward Killed In Car Crash

A tragic accident has taken the life of Herbert Coward, the actor remembered for his role in the 1972 film "Deliverance," at the age of 85.

Herbert Coward, along with his partner Bertha Brooks, his pet chihuahua, and his squirrel, were fatally injured in a car crash when their vehicle was hit by a truck.

On a fateful Wednesday afternoon, Coward's journey met a tragic end in Haywood County, North Carolina. Coward, driving his silver Nissan, was turning onto US Route 23 Highway when a truck, driven by a 16-year-old, collided with his vehicle. The impact was severe, claiming the lives of Coward, his 78-year-old partner Bertha Brooks, and his beloved pets.

A life ended too soon

Notably, neither Coward nor Brooks wore seatbelts at the time of the accident. This detail, while small, might have been a critical factor in the outcome of the crash. The young driver of the truck, whose condition remains uncertain, was hospitalized following the incident.

Despite the gravity of the accident, ABC News reported that the teenager was not speeding. After a thorough investigation, state troopers concluded that no crime was committed. As a result, the young driver faced no charges.

Herbert Coward's journey to fame was as remarkable as it was unexpected. He rose to prominence following his role in "Deliverance," a film known for its intense and raw portrayal of survival. Coward's performance was particularly notable for his improvised lines, adding a layer of authenticity to his character.

The unique path of an actor

Coward's life was a tapestry of unique experiences and challenges. He was illiterate and had a stutter, yet his talent in acting was undeniable. His encounter with Burt Reynolds at the Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park was pivotal, leading to his casting in "Deliverance."

Reflecting on Coward, Reynolds said, "He couldn't read or write and he stuttered, but he was a wonderful actor." This statement from a fellow actor highlights the dichotomy of Coward's life - his limitations juxtaposed with his undeniable talent.

"Burt said he didn't have but three friends — real friends — and I was one of them because I never asked him for nothing," Coward remarked on his friendship with Reynolds.

Coward's early life was marked by hardship. He left school prematurely following his mother's death and found work with Hubert Presley, building a Wild West-themed amusement park. Here, Coward earned his nickname 'Cowboy,' a testament to his skill with bulldozers and machinery.

More than just an actor

His unique toothless appearance, a result of an injury sustained during a staged gunfight at the amusement park, became a defining feature. After his success in "Deliverance," Coward stepped away from film for 35 years. However, he later produced "Ghost Town: The Movie" and appeared in "Hillbilly Blood."

In his later years, Coward lived a quieter life, often seen with his pet squirrel. This image of a gentle, animal-loving man contrasts sharply with the rugged characters he portrayed on screen.

Coward's life and career timeline is a story of unexpected turns. Beginning in 1961, he worked on the construction of Ghost Town, leading to his iconic role in "Deliverance" in 1972. He continued to engage in creative work, producing "Ghost Town: The Movie" in 2007 and appearing in "Hillbilly Blood" in 2013. His last meeting with Burt Reynolds occurred in 2018, marking the end of a significant chapter in his life.

Lessons to learn from this tragedy

As we reflect on this tragic event, there are valuable lessons to be learned:

  1. Seatbelt Safety: The absence of seatbelts in this accident highlights the critical importance of always wearing a seatbelt, regardless of the journey's length or familiarity.
  2. Young Drivers: The involvement of a young driver underscores the need for continued education and awareness about road safety for new drivers.
  3. Animal Safety: The loss of Coward's pets reminds us of our responsibility to ensure our pets' safety while traveling.
  4. Appreciating Life's Journey: Coward's diverse and challenging life story encourages us to appreciate the unique paths we all take and the importance of resilience in the face of adversity.

Remember, despite taking all precautions, accidents can occur, and avoiding victim-blaming in these situations is crucial.

Why this story matters

This story is significant for several reasons. It serves as a reminder of the fragility of life and the unpredictability of events. Coward's journey from an illiterate amusement park worker to a notable actor in a cult classic film is an inspiration. His life's narrative demonstrates the power of resilience and the ability to overcome personal challenges. Furthermore, this incident raises awareness about road safety, particularly concerning young drivers and the use of seatbelts.

Herbert Coward's life and untimely death paint a picture of a man who overcame significant obstacles to leave a lasting mark in the world of cinema. His story is a reminder of the diverse paths life can take and the importance of embracing each moment.

  • Herbert Coward, known for "Deliverance," died at 85 in a car crash.
  • The crash also claimed the lives of his partner and pets and involved a young driver.
  • Neither Coward nor Brooks were wearing seatbelts, a critical safety lesson.
  • Coward's journey from an illiterate laborer to a celebrated actor is an inspiring tale of resilience.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.

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