Natchitoches, LA Jim Croce and others Die in Plane Crash, Sept 1973

Jim Croce, photo from Jim Croce Album Cover from Jim Croce Plane Crash, submitted by Stu Beitler

Singer Dies In Plane Crash

NATCHITOCHES, La., (UPI) - Investigators Friday said they found marijuana in the wreckage of the plane crash that killed singer JIM CROCE and five other persons, but a sheriff admitted the drug probably was not involved in the accident.
"A lid (ounce) is all. There was some on two different ones," said Sheriff SAM JAMES. "I don't think that had anything to do with the plane crash. He (the pilot) just didn't get enough altitude."
The sheriff said the pilot's body was not carrying any drugs, but JAMES ordered an autopsy.
The music industry expressed shock and sorrow at CROCE'S loss just as it had over the premature deaths of Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jim Morrison.
"For the music and the people who had seen JIMMY he was only beginning to scratch the surface of what I think would have been a truly big career," said Tommy West, a CROCE producer in New York.
"I wouldn't call him a super star because that has overtones of rock things and it went more beyond that. I think JIMMY could have been a Will Rogers or a white Bill Cosby."
"He didn't like the music business, he liked music."
CROCE, 30, and his group, had performed a concert Thursday night at Northwestern Louisiana State College, and were leaving for a Friday appearance at Austin College in Sherman, Tex.
CROCE'S biggest hits had been "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Operator" and "Don't Mess Around With Jim" which earned him a gold album.
"They were leaving the airport and got possibly 250 yards south of the runway, 30 feet in the air, and hit this tree," Sheriff James said. "For some reason they didn't gain altitude fast enough."
Investigators said the tree, a large pecan, was the only tree for hundreds of yards.
"It flipped, landed upright and was turned completely around," said James of the twin-engined craft.
The pilot, ROBERT N. ELLIOTT, 57, of Dallas, was thrown from the wreckage. The other victims were found in the plane.
Also killed were GEORGE STEVENS, 36, Inglewood, Calif., a comedian; KENNETH D. CORTOSE, 28, Chicago, CROCE'S manager and booking agent; MAURICE T. MUEHLEISEN, 24, Trenton, N. J., a musician; and DENNIS RAST, 30, Chicago.

The Morning Herald Hagerstown Maryland 1973-09-22


Fishy police activity...cover up?

So wait, I read bits n pieces on different pages about this tragic accident. Please clarify if you can.
1. Local sheriff was surveying the activity at the nearby motel believing his daughter was with the group? Possibly providing or at least partaking in suspected drug (marijuana and hash) activity?
2. Group and pilot sensed that the heat was on and decided to get to airport asap to get out of town before getting pinched?
3. Pilot headed out on foot to prepare plane for departure but was picked up by police en-route, questioned then released after being dropped off at the air strip?
4. By the time group of performers/tour staff arrived at plane (with lid of mj) police had additional squads and fire trucks on site. We're they plotting to (or had they already) blocked downwind runway causing panic driven pilot to attempt his takeoff on alternate headwind strip?
Local pd seemed to be trying to prevent departure to facilitate arrest due to increasing drug use on campus and make an example of the incident which eventually caused the crash.
Cover up ensued. Just look at that proud gung-ho officer photographed nosing through the wreck.
Thanks for your service, you sure showed them you prick!
Good work, not.
This is what I've gathered so far.

scoop ....

Everyone was spending the night in the local motel planning to leave next morning and the local sheriff was looking for a close relative (maybe daughter) spending time with someone in the preforming group at the motel. Everyone left the motel in a hurry, and on foot when they found out about the sheriff's plot to arrest them. The pilot ran all the way to the aircraft which probably gave him the heart attack and rendered him totally incapable as a pilot ....

Singer Mac Davis was close

Singer Mac Davis was close friends with George Stevens. You can google those names together with hopefully the results you're looking for.


Ward... You need another hit dude... and reevaluate the statement...

ie: try to make a statement that is factual... and ALL to the point...


I don't buy this statement for a minute! Based on grammar and the fact that there is no NTSB region 10 office!


Greetings all,

I am attempting to gather any information on the comic who died in the Jim Croche crash, George Stevens.

I would like very much to find out if he had a daughter named Kim Stevens and/or did George play the San Francisco Playboy Club in approx. 1966 or '67. Kim was 7 years old in at that time and 12 or 13 at the time of the crash. They (George & Kim) were staying on a houseboat at the SFO Heliport in Sausalito, CA where I lived permanently on THE SOUTH SHORE (Houseboat) at the end of the dock (the same dock made famous by Otis Redding's "Sitting On A Dock In The Bay").

I'm just not sure if the two are the same George Stevens (both Comics) or not.

ANY help would be much appreaceated. Contact me at

Thank you in advance,
Phill Pollard - Co. Springs, CO

Jim Croce plane crash

The NTSB never substantiated that the pilot had a heart attack. As you know pilot Elliot only used two half throttles on take off.


I was 20 when Jim died and I agree the coverage regarding the pot found was disgraceful. I never found any other details. Was anyone still alive when help got there? I was very thankful my girlfriend got us tickets to see him live in Springfield, MO in late 72.

Pic from final concert

I have found one but do not see where I can post it on this site.

theron's remarks.

simply bravo. well said.