TULSA (AP) - After more than two decades of public silence about their famous mother, Karen Silkwood's children decided to discuss her life and mysterious death in a car accident 24 years ago.
Michael Meadows, 29, of Tulsa said he and his sisters - Dawn Lipsey, 28, of Tulsa and Kristi Meadows, 32, of Cleburne, Texas - made a pact years ago not to discuss their mother in the media unless all agreed. He told the Tulsa World that they agreed to be interviewed for a People magazine story published Friday on condition their privacy was respected.
"We talked about it and decided to speak out. We're still not seeking a lot of publicity," said Meadows, who was 3 years old when his mother died. "It's not an easy thing to speak about."
Silkwood, 28, was killed in a car accident Nov. 13, 1974, while traveling from Crescent to Oklahoma City to speak with a New York Times reporter and a union organizer about alleged worker safety violations at Kerr-McGee's nuclear fuel plant near Crescent. Silkwood, a lab technician, had been contaminated by plutonium.
Friends have said Silkwood was carrying a manila envelope containing documents that could prove that Kerr-McGee violated worker safety laws and falsified quality control reports involving the production of plutonium rods.
She was killed when her white Honda Civic swerved left of center on a straight section of State Highway 74, careening over a retaining wall and crashing head-on into a concrete culvert. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol ruled her death an accident caused by falling asleep at the wheel.
A Dallas accident reconstruction firm investigated the wreck and concluded that her car had been bumped from behind and forced off the road. The manila envelope was not recovered.
Actress Meryl Streep starred in a 1984 movie about Silkwood's life.
"We've always guarded our privacy with great care," Michael Meadows said. "To tell the truth, we were kind of glad that (publicity) died down after a while. It made it easier to move on."
In the People article, the three speak about their mother and her choices. Kristi Meadows said they felt left behind when Silkwood decided to leave them with their father, Bill Meadows, after their parents' divorce.
"I really, really appreciate what she did for the world," Kristi Meadows said. "I can't appreciate what she did for me, my brother and my sister."
People magazine reports that Michael Meadows' clearest memory of his mother is a swat on the behind for using a soft drink rather than milk in a bowl of cereal.
"It's sad that you remember a bad (thing)," he said.
Michael Meadows, married with two daughters, said most neighbors and friends are unaware that he is Silkwood's son.Archive ID: 754711