Wadley, AL, Hit and Run Airplane Death, July 1949

From the Roanoke Leader, July 5, 1949.

Hit-Run Airman is Bound Over

LAFAYETTE, ALA., July 5.--An Air Force corporal was bound over to a Chambers County grand jury today after a preliminary hearing on a charge he piloted a "hit and run" aircraft.

He is Cpl. Robert S. Penick, 22, stationed at Shaw Field, Columbia, S. C. Bond was set at $1,000.

Sheriff Jim Abney said Penick and three other soldiers were in a plane that killed a Negro wagon driver near Wadley, Ala., July 2.

Abney described the case as an "air hit and run." The four soldiers were arrested when they landed their chartered private plane at Alexander City, about 30 miles from the scene of the accident.

An aged Negro man, John H. Hall, died two hours after being struck by a wing of the plane, Abney said.

Hall had stood up to quiet the mules when the plane approached at low altitude. Four other persons in the wagon were unhurt.

Penick's three companions were held as material witnesses but were released last night, Abney said, to prevent their being listed as AWOL.

The plane, a Piper Cruiser rented from a flying service firm in Columbia, landed on Highway 83 after striking Hall, then took off and proceeded to Alexander City for repairs to the wing, which had two holes torn in it from the impact.

The fliers stated that they thought they were running low on gasoline and were seeking a place to land when the Negro was hit.