Knight, UT Plane Crashes in Mountains, Oct 1937 - Rescuers Reach Aircraft

Rescuers Reach Slope Where Plane Crashed

Young Woman, Wife of Airline Mechanic, Who Would Have Become Mother Within a Few Days Among the Dead; San Francisco Doctor and Uncle of Victim Makes Futile Flight to Scene; Bodies of Dead Buried in Snow.

Salt Lake City, Oct. 19-(UP)-A searching party reached the wreckage of a United Airline transcontinental plane today and found all its 19 occupants dead. The toll actually was 20 because one of the woman passengers, had she lived a few days longer, would have given birth.

Ralph Johnson, United Air Lines pilot and member of the first party to reach the wreckage, made a hazardous journey back down the steep slopes of the Uinta mountains and reported in Knight, Wyo., that all aboard the plane had been killed.

Eighteen bodies had been thrown through a hole torn behind the pilot’s cockpit and were scattered for 100 feet in front of the plane, he reported. They were buried in the snow, with only arms and legs protruding.

One body was found in the cockpit.

The intelligence ended in the pathetic hope of Dr. Richard M. Boe of San Francisco, whose niece, Mrs. Helen Ferreira, of Cheyenne, Wyo., one of the plane’s 16 passengers, had been about to have a baby. Hoping that she was still alive, either unhurt in the crash or gravely injured, he had clown to Salt Lake City to join a searching party, expecting if possible to deliver her child at the scene of the wreck by a Caesarian operation.

Dr. Boe was left in Salt Lake City when the rescue plane flew to Knight. The United Airlines clerk explained that he had forgotten to warn the doctor that the plane was leaving.

“I could have rested just as well in San Francisco.” Dr. Boe complained.

Company officials indicated that they considered the doctor incapable of withstanding the hard climb through the snow to the wreckage and that he was outfitted improperly for so rigorous a journey.

Husband Also Perished

Location of the wreckage was described as in northeastern Utah about 10 miles northeast of Hayden Peak in the Uinta mountains.

Mrs. Ferreira’s husband, George, an employee of the United Air Lines, owners of the wrecked twin-motored 18-passenger plane, also was a passenger.

The plane struck so hard that eleven seats-all well fastened to the floor of the cabin-were torn loose and followed the occupants out the front of the plane. Practically everything movable in the cabin went out the hole in the nose.

J.W. Myers, a rancher who accompanied the party, said it appeared that most of the snow had fallen since the crash.

“There were no traces of the crash in the snow and the bodies were nearly covered,” he said. “It was terrible.”

Members of the party said that had the plane been flying only about 300 feet to the right it would have gone through a notch in the ridge and cleared the mountain range.

Snow was so deep in the wild mountain country that Johnson’s searching party was unable to proceed even at the rate of mile an hour. The drifts ranged from three to sex feet in depth.

Searchers were able to get within three miles of the scene by automobile, but it was a long, difficult climb from the end of the road to the 10,000 foot level where the wreckage lay.

United Airlines officials immediately organized a party of about ten ranchers in Knight to start out with a pack train to bring out the bodies.

The Bureau of Air Commerce announced in Washington that a special board would investigate the causes as soon as the inspectors make their reports.

Cause of Crash Unknown

No aviation expert would hazard publicly an opinion on the cause of the crash, but some pointed out privately that the last word from Pilot Earl Woodgerd had said that he was lying intermittently by instruments. This was just 28 minutes before he was to have landed at Salt Lake City at 8:42 p.m. (9:42 p.m. CST) Sunday night. A few minutes later he cracked up.

The plane had been flying through a rain storm. Its wreckage was 14 miles off its route, which might indicated that the storm had interfered with the radio causing Woodgerd to use his radio beam, ort that he was merely deviating away from the course to escape the storm. The last message from the plane was so intermingled with static that it was difficult to decipher.

In addition to Woodgerd, the crew was Co-Pilot John Adams, Denver, and Leah Derr, Cheyenne, the stewardess.

Other passengers than Mr. and Mrs. Ferreira were:

Three United Airlines employees-John Couboy, Cleveland, reservation clerk; Louis Cleaver, Portland, A co-pilot on company business, and Charles Renouf, Kent, O., traffic department.

Two newsreel cameramen from New York, flying west to make a picture demonstrating the safety and comfort of air travel, William Pitt and Joseph Pergola, of Pathe Films.

Others aboard were: Ralph Keown, Glendale, Calif.,; D.A. MacMillan, Murray, Utah, banker; Dr. L. Gross, New York; W.J. hart, Sharon, Pa.; William Pischell, Salt Lake City, attorney; C.L. Jensen, San Francisco, insurance man; Charles S. Jamison, head of a Denver poultry firm; Mrs. J.A. Hammer, Cleveland; Mrs. C.H. Pritchett, Washington, D.C.

Logansport Pharos Tribune, Logansport, IN 19 Oct 1937