Decoto, CA Passenger Plane Crashes, Aug 1951

Ruins at site of impact Decota CAL Wreckage.jpg Decota CAL Wreckage priest.jpg CAL crash of DC-6b UAL 8-24-1951.jpg




Two Babies, Two Belmont Boys Counted Among Victims.

Sixteen Peninsulans, including fourteen San Mateo county residents, two of them infants in arms, were amont the 50 who perished in the crash of a United Air Lines DC-6-B passenger plane after dawn today near Decoto in Southern Alameda county.
Two Menlo Park families, those of mechanics employed by the airline, virtually were wiped out in the tragedy.
A Menlo mother and her three children died when the huge plane smashed in a canyon five miles east of the Decoto Masonic home and disintergrated in a sheet of flame. A second Menlo mother and her two youngsters were killed.
Brothers Die.
Two Belmont brothers, 18 and 10 years old, were among the victims.
Three of the crew of six who died with the 44 passengers lived in this county. Two others of the crew were from Palo Alto and Los Altos.
Before noon, the passenger list of the ill-fated airliner was fixed at 44, when it was ascertained that two Menlo Park infants were aboard.
The San Mateo county crew members who perished were First Officer GEORGE A. JEWETT, about 35, of 951 Johnson street, Redwood City, a veteran of 30 air force missions in World War II; Stewardess MARILYNN MURPHY, in her twenties, of 11 North Quebec street, San Mateo and A. W. KESSLER, 41, assistant chief flight engineer, of 61 Hay road, Redwood City.
Four In Family Die.
Others of the crew complement who lost their lives were Pilot MARIAN W. HEDDEN, of Alvarado road, Los Altos; Stewardess LAVERNE M. SCHOLES of 238 Byron street, Palo Alto, and MARIO A. DURANTE, of Sausolito, a company flight observer.
Hardest hit by the tragedy, first to involve a DC-6-B, was the family of HAROLD C. WILLAUER, UAL mechanic of 1234 Windemere avenue, Menlo Park.
His wife, MRS. KATHERINE WILLAUER; their daughter, ANNE LEE, 14, and two sons, DENNIS, 3, and LESLIE JAMES, 14 months old, were killed.
MRS. WILLAUER and the children had boarded the Mills field-bound plane at Chicago. The husband and father, sole survivor of the family, left for the crash scene this morning.
Three In Family
The second Menlo Park household decimated by the plane crash was that of HUGO J. HOLMLUND of 1037 Sonoma drive, also a mechanic for UAL. His wife, MRS. PAULINE A HOLMLUND; son, HUGH CHRIS, and infant son, JOHN PAUL, 8 months old, died. MRS. HOLMLUND and her sons likewise boarded the plane at Chicago.
FRED LIEBICH, 18, and his brother, WAYNE, 10, sons of MR. and MRS. GEORGE LIEBICH of 1608 Francis avenue, Belmont, lost their lives when the craft plunged to its destruction.
The LIEBICH boys had been visiting relatives in Chicago and they, too, took the plane at the Midwest metropolis. Ironically, his parents had been preparing a surprise party for FRED, the elder, on occasion of his nineteenth birthday, August 28. The father, an engine techinician employed by UAL and MRS. LIEBICH were prostrated by grief upon word their sons had been killed.

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