Morrisville, NC Commuter Plane Crashes, Dec 1994
COMMUTER PLANE CRASHES.
15 PERISH, 5 SURVIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA CRASH.
Morrisville, N.C. -- (AP) -- An American Eagle commuter plane was on its fifth trip in a daylong hop-scotch across North Carolina when it crashed in fog and drizzle, killing 15 of the 20 people aboard.
It was the commuter airline's second crash within two months, but the plane was not the same as the model that went down in Indiana in October, killing all 68 aboard.
Flight 3379 from Greensboro smashed into the ground 3 1/2 miles from Raleigh-Durham International Airport Tuesday evening. The crash snapped the fuselage in half and scattered wreckage across 500 yards of rugged woods, airport spokeswoman Teresa Damiano said. Residents who rushed to the scene said they heard the cries of survivors as the Jetstream Super 31's cockpit burned. One passenger was walking around in shock, looking for his wife.
When Edmond Badham arrived at the scene about 10 minutes after the crash, he found people pinned in a 20-foot-long chunk of the fuselage.
"There was a woman who was trapped upside down and still strapped into her seat," he said. "I was afraid if I undid the belt she would fall."
With debris burning about 20 feet away, Badham and others tried to pull the victims free.
"We saw one person that was clearly dead and he was face down and burning .... We pulled him out of the wreckage and put him out, but he was clearly dead," he told the Associated Press.
The pattern of the wreckage offers clues about the cause of the crash, Ned Clarke, an aviation safety consultant, told NBC's "Today" show.
"The fact we have so many survivors and that type of environment says that the aircraft was essentially flown into the ground," Clarke said.
The muddy site was hindering the probe, John Lauber of the NTSB told the "Today" show.
One passenger, 38-year-old DENNIS ALLAIN of Georgia, was on his way from one construction job in North Carolina to another in Michigan, said his sister-in-law, Linda Swaney. He'd been away from his wife, Deborah, for four weeks.
"He was supposed to be coming home on Christmas," Swaney said. "He had his ticket in his pocket to come home." ALLAIN died in the crash.
Airline spokesman Al Becker said no one yet had any idea what caused the crash, but American Eagle had complete confidence in the aircraft.
The two-engine turboprop, American Eagle's smallest plane, seats 19 passengers and has a 53-foot wingspan. It was 37 degrees on the ground and much colder in the air when the plane crashed with 18 passengers and two pilots aboard. Visibility was at 2 miles at the airport.
"It's an approach-to-landing accident. Statistically, the two main causes of that have been severe weather like microbursts that are associated with thunderstorms and the second has been pilot error," Clarke said.
Thirteen people died at the scene and seven others were taken to hospitals, Damiano said. Two people died at Duke University Medical Center, and two others there suffered "extensive trauma," hospital spokeswoman Renee Twombly said.
Three survivors were in critical condition at Wake Medical Center in Raleigh.
The flight data recorder and voice recorder were recovered, and the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration were investigating.
American Eagle, a commuter carrier affiliated with American Airlines, already was reeling from the Oct. 31 crash of an ATR-72 plane in Roselawn, Ind., that killed all 68 people aboard. Ice on the wings is the suspected cause; on Friday the government banned ATR aircraft from flying in icy weather.
One month ago International Airline Passengers Association urged its members not to fly in planes with fewer than 31 seats, saying such aircraft have a "significantly higher" accident rate than larger craft.
Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1994-12-14
A list of victims.
Following is a list of people aboard American Eagle Flight 3379 according to the airline.
DENNIS ALLAIN, 38, Woodstock, Ga.
JONATHAN B. KAST, 35, Franklin, Mass.
KELLY CIULLA, 26, Manorville, N.Y.
WILLIAM GIBSON, 39, Kemmersville, N.C.
SCOTT JOHNSON, 41, Hawthorn Woods, Illinois.
PAULINE JOSEFSON, 70, Warwick, R.I.
BRYAN KERCHAL, 23, Newtown, Conn.
KEITH KORHOM, 40, Crestwood, Illinois.
DAVID PARKER, JR., 39, Zion, Illinois.
BILL PETERS, 26, Woodstock, Illinois.
SAM STELLATO, 43, Glenview, Illinois.
DOUGLAS SUCKOW, 22, Holmdel, N.J.
KATANISH TURNER, 20, Redford, Mich.
MICHAEL P. HILLIS, 29, Raleigh, N.C.
MATTHEW I. SALLOR, 25, Miami, Fla.
LAUREN ANDERSON, 18.
JOHN CIULLA, 31, Manorville, N.Y.
RONALD LEWIS, 35, Crystal Lake, Illinois.
RICHARD MANN, 40, Greensboro, N.C.
DONALD MERKEL, 60, Wheaton, Illinois.