Cranbrook, BC Airliner Crashes On Landing, Feb 1978
41 KILLED IN PLANE CRASH -- SEVEN SURVIVORS.
Crankbrook, British Columbia (UPI) -- DAVE WHITE, one of seven survivors of the crash of a Pacific Western Airlines Boeing 737 that killed 41 persons, says he is alive only because "somebody up there must like me."
An airline spokesman said Sunday the twin jet carrying 43 passengers -- one of them an infant -- and five crew members crashed and burned while trying to land in a snowstorm at Cranbrook, 350 miles east of Vancouver.
"The pilot was attempting to abort his landing and crashed to avoid hitting a snowplow on the runway. That was our first report and it was confirmed later by witnesses who saw the crash from the ground," the spokesman said.
"But what we haven't been able to determine yet is what caused the plane to crash. And we won't and can't even speculate on that."
The crash Saturday was Canada's worst air disaster since an Air Canada DC-8 crashed near Toronto in July 1970 killing 109 persons.
WHITE, 20, a physical education student, was one of six passengers and a stewardess who survived the crash. He walked away from the wreckage unhurt except for a pulled abdominal muscle.
"All I can think of now is that I was lucky," said WHITE, who boarded at Calgary and sat in the rear of the plane. "Somebody up there must like me."
WHITE said that as the airliner came in to land at Cranbrook Airport, where his parents were waiting to meet him, he watched the plane explode in front of him.
"I saw a wall of yellow flame, but the heat went away from me," he said. "I didn't even have a singed eyebrow."
"I undid my seat belt and got to the stewardess who was dazed and didn't seem to know where she was."
WHITE said he and 25-year-old stewardess GAIL BUNN got out of the wreckage through an emergency door, but "heard a little girl screaming as they walked away. The stewardess said she had to go back for her."
"I have never met anyone so dedicated. I ran by her and grabbed the girl sitting among the rubble. She was belted in and screaming for her mother, but she (the mother) was dead."
Two survivors emerged from the crash unhurt and three suffered minor inijuries. Two others, who were reported in serious condition with multiple injuries and severe burns, were transfered to hospitals in Vancouver and Calgary.
The airliner, piloted by Capt. CHRIS MILES, 30, and First Officer PETER VAN ORT, 35, was on a flight from Fort McMurray, Alberta, to Castlegar, British Columbia.
Tyrone Daily Herald Pennsylvania 1978-02-13