Jacksonville, FL Navy Passenger Plane Crash, Apr 1983
ONE SURVIVES CRASH OF NAVY C-131 PLANE.
Jacksonville, Fla. (AP) - A Navy passenger plane carrying 15 people crashed into the St. Johns River on Saturday after one of its engines caught fire and exploded five minutes after takeoff from Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
One survivor was pulled from the 10-foot-deep water. Divers scoured the wreckage in the murky, swift current and had recovered three bodies eight hours after the plane went down.
"It is not expected that there will be any (more) survivors," said Nick Young, a civilian spokesman for the base. One body was pulled from the wreckage, and the other two were found on the river bottom, he said.
Navy officials were contacting the families of the people aboard to tell them the plane had crashed, Ensign Erik Dahl said.
All those aboard were Navy personnel based at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Dahl said. The C-131 twin-engine turboprop took off at 12:04 p.m. EDT bound for the base, he said.
The pilot radioed the control tower at 12:09 p.m. that his left engine was on fire and he was returning to the base, Dahl said.
"He was approaching the runway from the east and landed in the water of the St. Johns River about 100 to 125 yards east of the runway in 10 to 15 feet of water," he said.
Witnesses said the plane was making an even approach to the runway with the engine ablaze leaving a trail of smoke," when a wing fell off and the craft rolled over and crashed into the water.
"If he had another 15 or 20 seconds, he would have made it to the runway," said Rich Collot, a fireman on crash duty.
The aircraft fell in four pieces, near four sets of signal lights mounted on pilings in the water, into a section where the river is about three miles wide. Witnesses said another piece fell into their neighborhood on the civilian side of the river.
All but the top 10 or 15 feet of the battered fuselage was under water.
At 4 p.m., a team of 14 divers from the Navy and the Jacksonville sheriff's office began marking an area sealing off the wreckage.
Dahl said passenger MELISSA KELLY, 30, an aviation electronics technician from Jacksonville, was taken to the Naval Regional Medical Center with a broken leg. She was in stable condition, he said.
"She was spotted in the water immediately after the crash. A fire crew swam out, commandeered a private boat, got her on the boat and to the hospital," said Savage, adding that he did not know whether MS. KELLY fell or swam out of the wrecked plane.
"She was spotted in the water immediately after the crash. A fire crew swam out, commandeered a private boat, got her on the boat and to the hospital," said Petty Officer 1st Class Don Savage, adding that he did not know whether MS. KELLY fell or swam out of the wrecked plane.
Paris News Texas 1983-05-01
Partial List of the Casualties:
Chief Warrant Officer WAITE W. BALOG, 36, Yonkers, N.Y.
Aviation Storekeeper 3rd Class EDWARD A. KOCH, JR., 21, Spotswood, N.J.
Pilot CMDR LARRY DEAN BARNETT.
ADCS COLLIE PORTER McCORD.
Chief EDWARD BEACH, 45, Orange Park, Texas.
Petty Officer 3rd Class MARK BIALOWICZ, 20, Allen Park, Mich.