Murphy Peterson (1939-2001)

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About Murphy Peterson (1939-2001)


Murphy G. Peterson, Sr., was born on February 15, 1939. Peterson worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina along the Atlantic Coast where he served as a heavy equipment operator until his death.

Cause of Death

On April 27, 2001, Peterson was driving a truck with a lowboy trailer westbound on Highway 64, approximately 1 mile west of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge’s office. Peterson saw that passenger cars had stopped in his travel lane to allow another vehicle to turn onto a side street, so he conducted an emergency stop to avoid a collision. However, during this emergency stop procedure, the chains and ratchet tie-downs securing one of the lowboy trailer’s load items came undone. This loose load item struck the upright portion of the trailer, and it propelled a piece of equipment onto the roof of the truck cab, pushing the roof downward onto the dashboard and steering wheel. The crushed roof pinned down both Peterson and the Service intern who accompanied him, Tony Beurskeus. Emergency responders removed them from the wreckage after heavy extrication efforts, and although Beurskeus did not suffer notable trauma, Peterson was dead. In his honor, the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge named the Murphy Peterson Wildlife Drive after him.


Key Fields

Born 1939, Died 2001, Age 62, Male, Heavy Equipment Operator, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, Truck (Vehicle), Crushed, Eponym