Gillsburg, MS Plane Crash Kills Lynyrd Skynyrd Band Members, Oct 1977
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta, Ga., said the pilot had reported being low on fuel.
The group was formed in Jacksonville, Fla., producing its first album in 1973 and then earning its first $1 million gold album with "Second Helping" in 1974. Later albums sold a million copies each for the group noted for its hard-driving rock and unrestrained performances.
The band's fifth and latest album was "Street Survivors." It had just completed visits to four cities on a lengthy tour.
Thick undergrowth hampered rescue operations and some emergency vehicles became stuck in the mud when they tried to drive through the woods to get close to the aircraft. Rescue crews also were hindered by a 25-foot wide, waist-deep creek they had to cross to reach the plane and then return with the injured and dead on stretchers.
A helicopter hovered over the plane with floodlights to help rescuers.
Pickup trucks and vans were used along with ambulances to carry the dead and injured to hospitals.
A Southwest Medical Center spokesman said identification of victims was complicated because passengers apparently were playing poker before the plane went down and had their wallets with identification papers out.
FAIRLY said a small jet was landing at McComb at the time the plane was reported in difficulty and he asked the jet pilot to fly over the area.
"But it was very dark and the pilot said he could see nothing from the air," FAIRLY said.
The plane came down near open pasture land, tearing off one of the wings and twisting the other. Rescuers had to rip open the nose to get to victims. Bulldozers were used to cut a path through the woods and brush from nearby Mississippi 568.
DONALD CHASE, who lives about five miles from the area, said he heard that "that the plane was having engine trouble because it was sputtering."
MOTE said he was putting some hay out when three bloody survivors who had made their way through the woods called to him for help.
The Daily Times-News Burlington North Carolina 1977-10-21
CRASH KILLS SINGER, SIX OTHERS.
GILLSBURG (UPI) -- A chartered twin-engine plane carrying the popular Lynyrd Skynyrd rock band crashed in a piney woods area in southwest Mississippi Thursday night, killing lead singer RONNIE VAN ZANT and five other persons.
The remaining 20 persons aboard the plane were injured, five of them critically.
Besides VAN ZANT, leader of the group, the dead included three persons traveling with the band -- STEVE GAINES; his sister, CASSIE GAINES, and DEAN KILPATRICK. The pilot, WALTER McCREAREY, and co-pilot, JOHN GREY, also were killed.
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