Springfield, MO Airplane Crash, Mar 1955


Soupy Weather Fouls Craft Near Airport.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - An American Airlines plane threading its way through darkness and rain toward a landing field crashed last night, killing 12 persons and injuring 23.

The twin-engine Convair crashed in a pasture about two miles north of the Springfield airport. Wreckage was scattered more than 300 feet.

The plane carried a three-member crew and 32 passengers. All the survivors were injured.

JACK PRIPISH, of Chicago, the pilot, was the only member of the crew to survive. Stewardess RITA MADAJ and copilot GLENN WALKER, of Chicago and Los Angeles, died.

The airport control tower had given final clearance for the landing. As the craft approached CARL McCRARY in the tower saw a flash. The the plane disappeared and he gave the alarm.

SHERIFF GLENN HENDRIX, one of the first to reach the scene made muddy by an all-day rain, said: "There was no fire. In the darkness I found it hard to find the plane and I lost my shoes in the mud as I crossed the farm field."

"Then I heard a woman call and I found her sitting on the ground. I gave her my coat and then I saw three persons walking around dazed. I finally could see the plane in the darkness."

"Its wings were sheared off but the fuselage was intact except for the nose."

"The nose was crumpled up like cellophane."

"Two ambulances came near the scene but got stuck in the mud. We started taking out the injured as other ambulances arrived but it was close to 1 a. m. before we got them all out."

THE PLANE crashed about 10:30 p. m.

ROBERT BROWNING, 15, of Chappaqua, N. Y., an injured passenger, said there was a "terrible vibration" before the crash.

MRS. O. W. PEEBLES, who lives near the scene, reported hearing an explosion just before the crash.

"I was on a clipper plane last summer and I read some instructions on what to do in case of a crash," BROWNING related. "They said to put your head down between your knees. And I did that when I felt the vibration. The next thing I knew I was lying on the ground about 15 feet from the plane."

Young BROWNING was en route to visit relatives at Harrison, Ark.

BILL BOWERS of radio station KTTS said when he reached the plane an elderly man, whose legs appeared to be broken, was lying beside the plane.

"Don't bother about me," the man said. "Get the others out first." BOWERS said he didn't know the man's name.

B. H. MAYS, of Cushing, Okla., another passenger, said he didn't know what happened.

"The first thing I knew I was out on the ground," MAYS said.

The dead included STANLEY GRZANKOWSKI, 64, Detroit, assistant Wayne County prosecutor for 18 of the last 20 years. He was en route to Springfield on private business.

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