San Gorgonio Pass, CA Heavy Army Bomber Crash, Oct 1941



March Field, Calif., Oct. 12. -- (AP) -- The explosion-crash of an army B-23 bomber during a rainstorm in San Gorgonio pass near Beaumont late today apparently brought death to seven persons.

Three men employed at the Highland Springs Resort, near where the wreckage was found, expressed belief that the bomber first exploded and then crashed in a field. They pointed out there was no deep indentation in the earth where the main part of the wreckage lay. Parts of the ship and bodies were scattered over a wide area.
"The ship flew over at about 500 feet, its engines apparently functioning perfectly," said Charles McCloseky, one of the resort employes. "After it passed over a hill I heard a terrific explosion."

James Kelly agreed with his statement. The third employe, Theodore Salvador, said the explosion rocked his house, which was about a quarter of a mile from the wreckage.

Army officers also held to the view that the ship exploded before it crashed, but declined to be quoted pending an investigation. Only five bodies were recovered immediately, many of them badly dismembered. However, seven men were listed here as having been aboard the ship and the air base at Albuquerque said seven men took off from there.

The identified dead:
Lieut. J. E. OVERSTREET, 4th interceptor command, mother lives in Riverside, California.
Lieut. J. S. PARK, 4th air force, widow at Riverside.
Lieut. J. W. TEMPLETON, 32nd air base group, home Wichita, Kan.
The enlisted men, dead or unaccounted for:
Staff Sgt. B. T. BELL.
Staff Sgt. R. J. THOMAS.
Staff Sgt. R. J. FARLOW.
Corporal J. E. SMITH.

Personel records were unavailable, because of the Sunday holiday, to obtain home towns and nearest of kin.

Army officers said the sky was heavily overcast and rain was falling intermittently when the ship crashed.

Independent Helena Montana 1941-10-13