When Laura was 17, tragedy struck. While on the way to a drive-in movie, Laura accidentally ran a stop sign, striking another vehicle. The other driver—a good friend of Laura's named Mike Douglas—was killed instantly. Though the accident was made public knowledge during her husband's 2000 presidential campaign, Laura has never revealed how that night shaped her life until now.

Laura remembers the night of November 6, 1963, clearly. "I'd just turned 17 two days before, and it was a week night, but we had a school holiday the next day," she says. "So I'd picked up my good friend [Judy], and we were going to go to the movie." 

The road Laura drove was a dark, two-lane highway. "[I] didn't see the stop sign until it was too late," she says. "I just went on into the intersection. And it's a very quiet intersection. It's a terrible tragedy that there did happen to be another car coming at that moment."

Laura hit the other car and was thrown from her vehicle. Judy remained in the car. There were no seat belts in the car. "I was in my father's big, heavy Chevrolet Impala, and my friend who happened to be in the other car—but I didn't know at the moment that it was my friend—was in a much smaller Corvair," she says. "So I got up off the ground and Judy got out of the car, and we know that whoever was in the car was lying over quite a distance."


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