Hancock, IA Seven Killed as Liberator Bomber Falls, Collides With Other Plane in Air, Falls on Farm, Mar 1944
Special to the Nonpariel
HANCOCK-- Seven men were killed when a four-motored Liberator bomber from the Havard, Neb. air base collided with another plane in mid-air and crashed on the Andy Schuttioffel farm eight miles west of Hancock about 5 p.m. Wednesday, Coronor Jack Tyler said Thursday.
Four of the crewmen were taken from the wreckage Wednesday night and three more Thursday morning. All were badly burned Army officials withheld identification pending notification of next of kin.
Two airmen who parachuted from one of the planes in the collision landed near Lewis. Their plane, however, was able to return to the Harvard base. The two men, Tyler said, told him the planes collided at an altitude of 20,000 feet while flying in formation.
The two men who parachuted to safety are 2nd Lt. W.J. Matthews of Lakewood N.J. and Sgt. Leland Bradley of Fort Wayne Ind. Lt. Matthews was treated for a bruised leg muscle while Sgt. Bradley injured his shoulder in landing. Lt. Matthews said he plunged 5,000 feet before his chute opened.
Capt. W.A. Hayward of the Omaha military police identified the crashed plane as from the Harvard base.
Elton Schuttiofffel, 37, witnessed the accident.
"I was standing out in the yard, watching the planes. They were so high I called the folks out to see them. Two planes were in the lead, close together, and a third was trailing behind.
"The folks went back into the house. Then I thought I saw some pieces falling through the air. I kept watching, and one of the planes fell out of the formation, started downward in a tail spin.
"I could see pieces falling off of it then, and the motors were roaring louder--as if the pilot was trying to pull it out of the spin.
"I then realized that it was going to crash pretty close to us, so I turned and started to run for the house. I stopped and looked up, and saw the parachute open. I then started to run again, and just before entering the house I saw the plane spin in.
"There was no tail assembly on the plane--it looked just like it had been broken off.
"It buried itself into the ground 500 feet south of the house, and immediately burst into flames. There followed a series of explosions, some of which sent cans flying in the air several hundred feet. It was so hot we couldn't get anywhere near it," Schuttioffel said
Fire departments from Walnut and Oakland were called to the scene.
Thursday 9 Mar 1944 Council Bluffs Nonpariel