Sheriff William Elam was killed on October 1, 1951 when his vehicle left the roadway and plunged down a 100-foot embankment near Dollar Hill in the North Lake Tahoe area. He was thrown from the car and died at the scene.
He was conducting official business at the time of the accident. Sheriff Elam was elected Sheriff only 10 months earlier. He was 46 years old. He was survived by his wife and children.