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Former A-bomb worker, 91, is ‘person of interest’ in El Tour crash



A search warrant filed with Pima County Superior Court names William Arthur Wilson, 91, as the man sheriff’s deputies said was a “person of interest” in the Nov. 22 hit-and-run collision that injured at least five El Tour de Tucson bicyclists.

Wilson helped build America’s first atomic bomb, the one dropped on Hiroshima during World War II, according to his attorney, Michael J. Bloom, archived news stories and other records.

Bloom, a criminal defense lawyer specializing in motor vehicle incidents, said Monday evening he had no comment on the collision because the incident “is under investigation.”

Wilson has not been cited or charged in the collision and sheriff’s deputies have not publicly named him as being involved in the hit-and-run.

Deputies are completing an investigation and will send their findings to the County Attorney’s Office for review.

David Berkman, the chief criminal deputy county attorney, said through a spokeswoman late Monday that the sheriff’s investigation had not yet been received.

Sheriff’s traffic detectives had expected to get the case to prosecutors Friday, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. But they still have to finish some aspects of the case and schedule an appointment with a prosecutor, she said Monday.

In an affidavit filed as part of the request for a search warrant in the hit-and-run, Deputy Edward Curtin wrote that as a large group of bicyclists rode west on West Ina Road, Wilson, driving a gray, 2008 Ford Fusion east on Ina, turned left in front of the cyclists, a number of whom collided with the right side of the car.

Curtin wrote that he believed a search of the car and home in the 7500 block of North Palm Circle Drive would turn up evidence showing “that William Arthur Wilson has committed the public offense of leaving the scene of a serious injury collision.”

Search warrant documents show deputies were authorized to search Wilson’s car and home, about a quarter-mile north of the collision scene.

The search warrant documents do not show who owned the house, but Pima County Assessor’s records online name “William A. Wilson” as the home’s owner.

Wilson could not be reached for comment Monday.

Barkman said all the injured cyclist have been released from the hospital except Gary L. Stuebe, 42, of Surprise. Stuebe was transferred to a neurological institute at a Phoenix hospital.

The collision occurred at about 10:20 a.m. The motorist, described as an elderly man, stopped, got out of his car, looked at the damage it had sustained and looked at the cyclists before getting back in his car and driving away, heading north on Westward Look Drive, Barkman said witnesses told deputies.

Deputies had been unable to find the man until Nov. 24 when he made himself available through Bloom. The man also turned his car over to deputies.

In the search warrant affidavit, Curtin wrote that he expected to find rags containing blood and biological matter, human tissue and signs of damage and paint transfer.

When the Ford was turned over to investigators, Curtin wrote, it had damage consistent with the collision. The left front turn-signal lens was missing, there was a dent in the front of the hood, there was a dent in the lower right rear passenger door and about a 6-inch scratch on the hood, Curtin wrote.

“The hood appeared to have been wiped down with a rag or a towel,” Curtin wrote. He wrote that several rags were taken into evidence from the garage and bedroom.

After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from Case School of Applied Science in 1941, Wilson was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1944, according to a 2007 article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He was ordered to Oak Ridge, Tenn., where he was assigned to work on the atomic bomb.

After the war, Wilson returned briefly to a civilian sales job before going back to his wartime specialty to help develop the hydrogen bomb, The Plain Dealer said.

He later worked for the Ford Motor Co. and eventually retired to Tucson. He co-authored a book about his life with P.E. West called, “From Bombs to Buggies: One Man’s Calling The Biography of William A. Wilson.”

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