St. Thomas, ON Transport Plane Crashes, Oct 1941
FIERCE FLAMES PREVENT ANY TRY AT RESCUE.
TRANSPORT FALLS INTO FIELD NEAR ST. THOMAS, ONTARIO, DURING NIGHT.
(By Associated Press.)
St. Thomas, Ont. -- All 20 occupants of an American Airlines transport were killed last night when the big plane plowed into the earth 14 miles west of here and burst into such fierce flames that no attempt at rescue could be made.
It was the second accident within a day to befall an American air transport and the worst air disaster in Canadian history. It was the first crash of an American Airlines plane since February, 1936.
With 20 dead here and 14 killed early yesterday morning in the crash of a Northwest Airlines plane near Moorhead, Minn., the day was the most disastrous in loss of life of any in the history of American commercial aviation.
Visibility was poor when the plane, on its course, crashed at about 10:30 p.m. EST on the farm of THOMPSON HOWE at Lawrence Station. It was due at Detroit at 10:17 p.m. on the run from Buffalo.
When the plane struck, there was one big explosion followed by a series of smaller ones. Flaming gasoline gushed out.
Before HOWE could reach it, several hundred yards from his house, it was engulfed in flames. Farmers, provinicial police from St. Thomas and officers from the Royal Canadian Air Force school at nearby Fingal, who arrived quickly, were powerless to aid.
LEWIS BIDDLE, a Lawrence Station storekeeper who was one of the first at the scene, said three bodies tumbled outside but the flames roared up with the impact of the crash and they were burned before they could be reached.
The 17 passengers and three crew members were:
ROBERT FLOWERS, Hastings, N.Y.
EDWARD BIGDA, 24, Bridgeport, Conn., an aircraft inspector of the Vought-Sikorsky division of the United Aircraft corporation.
A. L. LEWIS, Bridgeport, on the Vought-Sikorsky engineering department.
JOHN KAY, La Porte, Ind.
E. J. BERIWZ, Ann Arbor, Mich.
E. J. WATT, Pratt Whitney company, Royal Oak, Mich.
THOMAS A. FRASER, American Brass company, Detroit, Mich.
V. R. CONZETT, American Brass company, Detroit.
G. S. VAN NORMAN, American Brass company.
E. M. SCOTT, Royal Oak, Mich., of the United Motors Service, Detroit.
F. R. ROOT, Ypsilanti, Mich., of Stinson Aircraft.
FRANK A. FISHER, Detroit, accountant for Arthur Anderson & Co.
FRANK SNYDER, 34, Buffalo, international representative of the CIO United Automobile Workers.
GEORGE E. RUSSELL, 45, Niagara Falls, N.Y., sales promotion manager of the Gilman Fanfold corporation.
JAMES GEORGE, Buffalo.
D. E. STONE, Eddy Paper company, Three Rivers, Mich.
JOSEPH BROWN, Detroit.
Capt. DAVID I. COOPER, 34, of Plandome, N.Y.
First Officer R. L. OWENS, 30, New York City.
Stewardess MARY E. BLACKLEY, 27, New York City.
BIDDLE said a light showed in the murky sky before the crash, indicating that the pilot had dropped a flare in an effort to find a landing spot. The plane circled around, he said, then skimmed the ground and shot up, only to sideslip and crash.
Its nose was buried in the ground, and debris was strewn in an area within a radius of 200 feet or more. The left wing was only partly destroyed but the right wing was smashed to bits.
The fire still was burning more than an hour after the crash when a bucket brigade of farmers, getting water from nearby pumps, were able to start extinguishing it.
Meanwhile at Moorehead investigators seeking to find the cause of the crash of a Northwest Airlines plane early yesterday in which 14 persons were killed today awaited more complete recovery of the ship's captain, 41-year-old CLARENCE BATES, the only survivor.
Physicians last night forbade questioning of BATES, and planned to allow him the fullest possible recovery before he is questioned. It was thought he would be able to talk late today. BATES apparently suffered only from shock and bruises when he was thrown from the cockpit when the ship fell to earth and burst into flames.
(NOTE -- To read about the other crash mentioned, please look at the GenDisaster Minnesota pages.)
Mansfield News Journal Ohio 1941-10-31