Mt. Carmel, PA Airliner Crash, Jun 1948
NEXT OF KIN MAY IDENTIFY PLANE DEAD
MT. CARMEL, Pa., June 18 - Next of kin will be brought here today to start the sad task of identifying the bodies of 43 passengers and crew members killed in the crash of a DC-8 luxury airliner.
A United Airlines spokesman said family members able to make the trip will view the remains at a funeral home in nearby Centralia.
As special investigators searched the wreckage to determine why the four-engined plane crashed yesterday, the company said "any statements as to the probable cause of the accident to Flight 624 would be premature and might prove misleading."
ROBERT PERO, airlines public relations representative quoted UAL President W. A. PATTERSON that company officials at the scene "are conducting a thorough investigation but declare that nothing conclusive has been determined." The company has sent officials from Chicago, New York and Denver.
PATTERSON said any possible statement later today must depend on the ability of the investigators to get the facts rather than "assumptions."
A witness who was only 100 yards from the big plane when it crashed told investigators today that he could see no sign of smoke or fire before the airliner ploughed into a transformer station and exploded.
HARRY STIBITZ of Aristes, a worker at the Midvalley coal breaker, said he first saw the plane as it flew toward him at about 200 feet.
"It looked as though the pilot was going to try a landing on a culm bank but figured he couldn't do it without hitting the office. The plane swerved sharply to the right."
"I ran so the plane wouldn't hit me," STUBITZ said. "When I looked back, I saw the right wingtip touch the ground just as the nose smacked into the transformer platform. There was a terrific explosion and all I could see was pieces of bodies and plane parts falling all around."
Among the victims were EARL CAROLL, 55, theatrical producer; BERYL WALKER, television and night club entertainer who had starred in CARROLL'S shows, and MRS. VENITA VARDEN OAKIE, divorced wife of Movie Comedian Jack Oakie.
Police roped off the crash area. Bits of bodies and fragments of the airplane were scattered along the hillside for 600 feet. An area the size of three city blocks was blackened by a brush fire which started after the big four-engined Douglas airliner struck a transformer and burst into flames in an instant before plowing into the hillside.
The Daily Courier Connellsville Pennsylvania 1948-06-19