Springfield, MO Airliner Crashes Near Airport, Mar 1955



Company Officials Join CAA in Probe For Accident Cause.

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 FRIPISH, 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. Then 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:
No Fire.
"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 fot the nose."
"The nose was crumpled up like cellophane."
"Two ambulances come 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.
Hears Explosion.
MRS. O. W. PEEBLES, who lieves near the scene, reported hearing an explosion just before the crash.
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 known 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.
At New York, an American Airlines spokesman said:
Cause Unknown.
"airlines officials emphasize that there is no way of knowing at this time what caused the accident."
He said company officials from Tulsa, Chicago and New York had been dispatched to the scene and would join "in the investigation which will ce conducted by the Civil Aeronautics Board."
Rescuers had difficulty finding the plane in the darkness. Then the mud stopped approaching vehicles, and the rescuers had to walk.
A highway patrol car finally reached the plane and its radio was used to call for ambulances and doctors. But the car's motor gave out, adding to difficulties.
It was 2 1/2 hours before the first ambulance reached a hospital with some victims. Fifteen ambulances were used.
The stewardess, MISS MADAJ, 23, joined the airline in 1953 after attending Loyola University of Chicago.
Capt. PRIPISH began flying with a charter service in Milwaukee in 1935. He was a flying instructor 4 1/2 years during World War II. He has been with American Airlines since 1944.
JOHN CROSSWHITE, a Springfield youth who was among the first to reach the scene, said:
Many Groans.
"There were groans coming from the wreckage. Everything seemed to be covered with mud. Bodies were strewn over a wide area."
There was no evidence of fire around the plane, which rested on its belly. The wings were ripped off and the engines lay about 300 yards to the rear of the fuselage.
None of the survivors was able to stand.
A daylong rain had muddied the field.
The fuselage was crumpled but fairly intact. Firemen chopped a hole into the pilot's compartment and other rescuers climbed inside the fuselage through the open passenger door.
The plane was en route from Neward, N. J., to Tulsa, Okla., and had made stops at Syracuse, Rochester, Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis.
Among the survivors were JOHN G. PUNDT, a Dallas, Tex., oilman, and ROY BRITTON, president of the Carroll Oil Co., Ada, Okla. They were returning to Ada after a trip to Chicago. Both were hospitalized.

List Dead, Hurt In Air Crash At Springfield.
Springfield, Mo., (AP) -- The list of dead and injured in the crash of an American Airlines plane near here last night:
The identified dead:
Crew members:
Co-Pilot GLENN WALKER, Chicago.
Stewardess RITA MADAJ, Chicago.
RICHARD PADEK, 3, Tulsa, Okla.
DR. ELROY STROMBERG, Shaker Heights, O.
JOHN DAVIS, St. Louis.
JAKE MILLER, Coffeyville, Kan.
MRS. C. C. VAN NOY, Joplin, Mo.
GUENTIN G. HOLTZ, 28, Pittsburgh, Pa.
The tentatively identified dead:
MARK PURSER, Rochester, N. Y.
The injured:
Injured Persons.
At St. Johns Hospital:
DON CLINKENBEARD, 24, Springfield, Mo., sailor, critical condition, fractured ankle, facial cuts, head injuries and possible chest injuries.
FLOYD FITTS, 37, Martinsburg, W. Va., critical, fractured right leg, facial cuts, possible chest injuries.
TOM AHAMON, 50, St. Louis, critical, multiple cuts on entire body, back injuries and possible pelvic fracture.
W. R. BRITTON, Ada, Okla., critical, leg injuries.
ROBERT BROWNING, 15, Chappaque, N. Y., serious, facial cuts.
R. J. DOOLAN, Great Neck, Long Island, N. Y., critical, head, chest and elbow injuries.
At Springfield Baptist Hospital:
MRS. HOWARD C. JAMISON, 51, Joplin, Mo., fair condition, injuries to both legs.
JAMES R. McKNIGHT, Chicago, fair condition, laceration of scalp, left ankle injury and possible back and pelvic injuries.
Others Injured.
At Burge Hospital:
Pilot JOHN J. PRIPISH, Chicago, very serious.
MRS. DIXIE BOWYER, St. Louis, fair.
OTTO WEBER, Chicago, fair.
LOUIS PEGRAM, Kankakee, Ill., serious.
ANSEL I. MOORE, Poplar Bluff, Mo., serious.
PAUL ROBINSON, 49, Bronxville, N. Y., serious.
JO ANN VAN NOY, Joplin, Mo., serious.
MRS. LILLIAN GRAY, Ft. Thomas, Ky., fair.
JOHN PUNDT, Dallas, Tex., serious.
JOHN GREEN, Cushing, Okla., critical.
W. H. NEIL, St. Louis, serious.
TED PADEK, Tulsa, Okla., fair.
M. B. STEINMETZ, Kenosha, Wis., fair.
B. H. MAYS, 46, Cushing, Okla., fair.
ROY HANCE, Minneapolis, critical.

Jefferson City Post-Tribune Missouri 1955-03-21