Half Moon Bay, CA Plane Crashes into Kings Mountain, Oct 1953
FIRES STILL RAGING AROUND PLANE WRECK.
RESCUERS HAVE BAD TIME BRINGING OUT PARTS OF 19 BODIES.
Redwood City, Oct. 30 -- RAYMOND BROOKS, airport supervisor at Mills field, announced early this afternoon that all 19 victims of the crash have been identified at the national guard armory here. He said that although it was believed that only 17 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage, investigation proved that identifiable parts of all 19 bodies had actually been recovered.
Redwood City, Oct. 30 -- As county firemen fought this morning to control the largest of six forest fires in the aftermath of the plane crash that took the lives of 19 yesterday morning, rescue workers sought to recover two bodies from the scene, and authorities continued the difficult task of identifying the 17 charred bodies taken from the flaming Kings mountain hillside near Skyline boulevard yesterday.
By late this morning, nine of the 17 bodies taken to a temporary morgue at the national guard armory in Redwood City had been identified.
Six Fires In Wake.
Coroner PAUL JENSEN, Deputy Coroner CHARLES ZIMMERMAN and crews from United Air Lines and the coast guard station at Mills Field were poking through the smoking ruins at the scene of the tragedy looking for two bodies that could not be found yesterday.
Meanwhile, county fire crews, led by Fire Warden ERNEST WERDER, were attempting to bring the forest fire under control. Five small fires and one large fire, covering several areas of dense underbrush and redwood trees, were reported burning out of control.
Firemen brought hoselines to the scene and workmen continued the almost impossible task of cutting trails into the fires with bulldozers.
By 6 o'clock last night, 17 bodies had been removed from the wreckage of the Britich commonwealth Pacific airliner that crashed into Cahill ridge moments before the craft was to land at Mills Field after a flight from Sydney, Australia.
Under direction of Coroner JENSEN, the bodies, almost unrecognizable as such, were placed in plastic zipper bags and carried on stretchers and litters by coast-guardsmen and other workers over tortuous terrain for a mile and a half to ambulances lined up on a plateau where rescue headquarters had been set up.
Equipment was dropped to the scene by coast guard and air-force helicopters.
The first of the bodies arrived at the plateau at 3:30 p.m., more than six and a half hours after the four-motored plane crashed into the hillside. The second body was loaded into the waiting ambulance 26 minutes later. Others followed at similar intervals until after dark.
Brace Identifies Boy.
The twelfth body recovered was identified as that of 7-year-old JOHN FEHER of Australia. JENSEN reported finding the boy still wearing a special metal arm brace. It has been reported the boy was being brought to this country by his father for treatment for polio.
The bodies were carried from the wreckage by coastguardsmen and the litters on which they were placed were hauled the last 300 feet up a sheer cliff to the plateau by a cable attached to a winch on a coast guard truck.
After dark, with two bodies still to be located, JENSEN called off the search until this morning. Pinkerton guards were assigned to watch over the scene of the wreck during the night. In addition to the two bodies, workers this morning also were looking for the head of one of the victims taken to the morgue at the armory here.
At the armory, two doctors and a dentist set to work last night to identify the bodies. The dentist, DR. DONALD ALLEN of San Carlos, made dental charts. The two physicians were DR. A. C. LADD and DR. SETH SMOOT, both of San Francisco.
United Air Lines has been in almost constant touch since yesterday morning with friends, relatives, family doctors, and dentists of the victims in four nations, Australia, Canada, England, and New York City. From them air line officials have learned enough facts to identify nine victims through physical characteristics. The bodies were identified variously through dental work, physical descriptions, charred remains of identification papers, and blackened scraps of apparel still clinging to the burned bodies.
Armory Is Morgue.
Caskets were brought to the armory this morning for the victims that have been identified. In charge at the armory is Capt. JOHN THOMAS of the local national guard unit.
In charge of disposition of the bodies is JOHN LAYNG of the Layng and Tinney chapel here. LAYNG said families of all the victims are being contacted for instructions on the disposition of the bodies.
The family of WILLIAM KAPELL, famed concert pianist who was the only American to die in the crash, has requested that his body be shipped to his home in New York City for burial. The families of four of the victims have requested that the bodies be cremated and sent to their homes, according to LAYNG. It is likely, the mortician said, that some of the victims will be buried in Alta Mesa cemetery near Los Altos.
In addition to KAPELL and the boy, JOHN FISHER, one passenger and six members of the plane's crew have been positively identified.
The passenger is MRS. JEAN SHIVERTON, of Vancouver, B. C., Canada. Crew members are Capt. BRUCE DIXON, purser WALTER KNIGHT, navigator GEORGE MURTAGH, radio officer VERNON WALKER and hostesses JUNE ELDER and AMY LEWIS.
Crash Cause Sought.
Jewelry was of little use in identification, JENSEN said, because most of it had been melted into unrecognizable globs by the intense heat. A radio vacuum tube, imbedded in the chest of the radio officer, aided in his identification.
At the scene of the crash, the federal civil aeronautics board with EARL MITCHELL of Oakland in charge and international civil aeronautics administration investigators from Mills Field, sought to learn today the caue of the crash.
JAMES BEASLEY, chief of the international region of CAA, said the investigators have made no report to his office as yet. The investigation of why the plane crashed at an altitude of 1700 feet when normal altitude would have been between 4000 and 5000 feet will continue through the weekend, BEASLY said.
Curious sightseers, who were allowed to visit the tragic scene yesterday before the rescue operation was organized are now being kept out of the area.
The San Mateo county chapter of the American Red Cross, which dispatched first aid crew and a canteen yesterday, were back on the job this morning. They are providing hot coffee and sandwiches to rescue workers and firemen and treating their injuries, as they did yesterday.
In charge of the first aid crews is JAMES ALTIERI of San Mateo. Heading the staff of canteen workers are MRS. GEORGE KELLY and MRS. G. C. HELLESOE, both of Millbrae.
A crew of 14 county firemen were at the scene throughout the night, guarding against a sudden dangerous flareup of the several fires. Tank trucks were brought to the plateau this morning and four bulldozers were put into action in an effort to cut a trail around the fire. The blaze is raging through second growth redwoods. Because of the extreme ruggedness of the terrain several bulldozer trails were abandoned when further passage became immpossible[sic]. One trail was cut to within 150 yards of the crash scene before it was necessary to abandon it.
San Mateo Times California 1953-10-30