San Antonio, TX Navy Jet Trainer Crash, Jun 1970
Jet Crash Claims 4
San Antonio, Tex., (AP)-An engine failure sent a Navy jet trainer plane crashing into two houses and caused four deaths Wednesday night.
About a dozen other persons suffered injuries but only four stayed in hospitals overnight.
Police said a reports of a fifth death in the fiery crash proved in error.
Navy officials said the F9 Cougar jet was making a practice instrument approach to Kelly Air Force Base when it lost power and nosedived two miles north of the runway. It his in Southwest 41st Street on the city’s west side and bounded onto two home on Luz Avenue, burning both.
Ed King, 16, sitting outside with several friends, said, “It must have missed us by not more than 10 feet. It started going up and down just before it crashed.”
Rudy Vela, who lives five doors down from where the plane struck, told of hearing “something like a rocket coming down then an explosion” while he was still indoors.
“I went outside and saw all the houses on fire,” Vela said. “My little girl was screaming because she didn’t know what was going on…I ran to the corner and saw the plane on fire. The fire was tremendous. You couldn’t get close.”
There were two men aboard the plane. The Navy identified them as Lt. (j.g.) Wesley B. Duerr, 25, an instructor from Camp Springs, Md., and Lt. (j.g.) John B. Weller, 25, a student pilot from Ronvent, N.J. They were based at Chase Field, a naval auxiliary air station at Beeville, Tex.
The other dead were civilians--Saul Martinez, 44, and his son Eduardo, 23, newly returned from fighting in Vietnam.
Bodies of the fliers were found in the street and those of Martinez and his son in their home.
Police said the discovery of a dead cat in a partly melted car, parked beside one of the houses, apparently led to the false report of a fifth death.
Mark Latson, 12, dashed from his home with clothing in flames moments after the plane struck. Hospital attendants described his condition as grave.
Most of the other injured suffered burns while fighting the fire, officers said, and were dismissed after emergency treatment.
Abilene Reporter News, Abilene, TX 26 Jun 1970