Fairfield, UT Transport Plane Crashes Short Of Runway, Dec 1942
MARINE TELLS OF CRASH IN WHICH 17 MET DEATH.
Fairfield, Utah, Dec. 16 -- (AP) -- A doughty 23-year-old leatherneck tightened his safety belt and rode out a Western Airlines transport crash that killed 17 and left a second survivor battling for his life today.
Lt. A. F. GARDNER of Alexander, N. Y., and the U. S. marine corps smiled through a scratched, bruised face from his hospital bed at Lehi as he said: "I nearly froze to death."
He related that his first intimation of trouble aboard "was when I felt the pilot pull the nose up, almost steep enough to send the ship into a stall."
Grabs Safety Belt.
"I grabbed my safety belt and pulled it tighter. Apparently the pilot was trying to clear a hill. Then the ship's nose came down and it seemed to shake from side to side. Next thing I knew it smashed. People were thrown toward the front of the cabin."
The pilot apparently was groping for the emergency landing field at Fairfield, four miles from the crash spot, as the ship was pointed northward. It had failed to report by radio after taking off for Los Angeles.
Fumes from the smashed gasoline tanks, GARDNER said, "filled the cabin so thick you hardly could breathe. I was afraid the plane would catch on fire, so I started dragging myself along trying to find the doorway."
"Finally I made it, then I pulled myself along the ground for a ways. I spent the night out there in the sagebrush and it was mighty cold."
A. J. MALLETT of Springfield, Ark., the only other person aboard to escape death when the big ship toppled into a stretch of sagebrush desert about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City yesterday, was much more seriously hurt that the marine.
Four women, including Stewardess CLEO BOOTH of Los Angeles, two military officers, eight other men passengers and three crew members died in the crash, some of them lingeringly as GARDNER told of "awful screaming and groaning" in the smashed cabin.
Two of the victims were W. O. HART, 57, co-publisher of the Orange, Calif., Daily News since 1908, who had attended a loan company director's meeting in Salt Lake City, and DONALD E. CUMMINGS, 42, of Denver, head of the industrial hygiene department of University of Colorado.
The women passengers were MRS. LEONA ROSELL, Salt Lake City; MRS. CAROLYN WEERSING, Glendale, Calif., and MRS. GEORGE SKYLSTEAD, Las Vegas, Nev.
The others killed were Lieut. THOMAS A. BALDWIN, of the navy, Kellogg, Iowa; Second Lt. HUGH F. McCRAE of the army air corps, believed to be from La Grange, Ill.; Pilot EDWARD J. LOEFFLER, Glendale, Calif.; Co-Pilot J. CLIFTON LEE, Burbank, Calif.; DOUGLAS SOULE, St. Petersburg, Fla., co-pilot trainee; KNIGHT BENNETT, Glendale; FRED LEWIS, Los Angeles; GUY TALBOT, JR., Great Falls, Mont., airlines traffic manager; J. R. BRATT, Salt Lake City; R. H. HULTMAN, Omaha; and RICHARD W. JAMES, Salt Lake City.
Suffers Broken Leg.
GARDNER suffered a fractured right leg and shoulder injuries but fearful that gasoline-fed flames might break out any moment, he dragged himself clear of the ship. However, it did not burn.
The marine shivered through the bitter night of the Cedar valley desert before rescuers reached the lonely spot nearly eleven hours later.
LEE, the copilot, was a former Salt Lake City resident, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Lee of that city. Before joining W. A. L., he was a civilian pilot training instructor at Logan.
Ogden Standard Examiner Utah 1942-12-16