Port Stanley, ON National Balloon Race Crash, Jul 1923

FISHING BOAT SOLVES MYSTERY

DISAPPEARANCE OF NAVY OFFICERS SOLVED BY DISCOVERY OF BODY IN LAKE ERIE

BODY OF PILOT FOUND

BODY OF MISSING BALLOONIST L. J. ROTH, FOUND STRAPPED TO GAS BAG BASKET

Port Stanley, Ontario,---Lake Erie had yielded the body of Lieut. L. J. Roth, pilot of the ill-fated United States navy balloon A-6698. Strapped to the basket of the balloon and clad only in his underwear, around which had been tied a life preserver, Roth's body was found in the basket, fourteen miles off her by Capt. George Wilson, master of a fishing boat. The body of Lieut. Roth was taken directly to Cleveland. It was in charge of Lieut. James H. Strong, inspector of naval aircraft.

Apparently caught in a terrific storm Lieutenant Roth evidently took the precaution to strap himself to the side of the basket after divesting himself of his clothing, and then cut the basket loose from the big bag, trusting to the buoyancy with which the basket was equipped to keep it afloat.

How long the basket was buffeted about the lake after the bag was cut loose could not be conjectured, but the condition of Lieutenant Roth's body indicated that he died of exposure. His head and shoulders were hanging over the edge of the basket. Identification of the body as that of Roth was established by the stenciled initials "S. L. J. R." in the underwear.

Although airplanes from Selfridge field; flying boats from Cleveland and Detroit, a revenue cutter and various other swift moving craft had searched the lake for nearly three days without success, it remained for a small fishing craft to find the missing basket and its cargo. Captain Wilson took his small fishing boat out to make his customary trip to his nets and sighted the basket swaying in the waves fourteen miles out. He immediately put a line to the basket and towed it into port here. The basket contained nothing to give an inkling of when misfortune overtook the two aeronauts.

Indianapolis, Ind.,---Finding of the body of Lieut. T. J. Roth in Lake Erie brought to a tragic close the national balloon race, so far as the contest itself is concerned. Search now is centered on Lieut. T. B. Null of Denver, Colo., who accompanied Lieutenant Roth in the ill-fated aircraft.

Unofficial tabulations compiled by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, sponsor for the race, show Lieut. R. H. Olmstead, army pilot, to be the winner. His balloon traveled approximately 500 miles, landing at Marilla, N.Y. H. E. Honeywell of St. Louis was second, descending at Brocton, N.Y., about 450 miles from Indianapolis.

The balloon carrying Lieutenants Roth and Null was the ninth to taken off here. It attracted unusual attention because of its rapid rise, as compared with the other bags which had preceded it. Lieutenant Roth was overheard to remark that on one other occasion when he bore No.9 in a race he had encountered terrible storms and much danger.

Akron Weekly Pioneer Press, Akron, CO 13 Jul 1923