Ramsayville, ON Ambassador Dies In Plane Crash, Mar 1950
PROBING FATAL STEINHARDT AIR PLANE CRASH.
LONE FLIER SURVIVOR TO TELL STORY.
Ramsayville, Ont., March 29 -- (AP) -- The U.S. Air Force's top safety officer began an investigation today into the explosion and crash of the U.S. Embassy plane in which American Ambassador LAURENCE A STEINHARDT and four others were killed yesterday.
Maj. Gen. VICTOR E. BERTRANDIAS, director of flying safety for the air force, took a leading role in the inquiry started by Canadian police and Royal Canadian Air Force officers shortly after the tragedy.
The chief witness is the sole survivor of the crash, M/Sgt. GWYNNE A. LONG of Vannoy, N.C., who parachuted from the flaming plane just before it blew up and plowing into a snow-covered field near here.
Suffering from shock and leg injuries, Sgt. LONG told investigators last night that all aboard the plane strapped on parachutes after the right engine caught fire, but that the other passengers "got panicky and would not bail out." Newsmen have not been permitted to question him at the hospital where he is confined.
Among the four other victims was ALAN C. HARRINGTON, 20, son of JULIAN HARRINGTON, the U.S. minister to Ottawa.
Preliminary investigations tended to discount early rumors that the plane may have been sabotaged. The rumors started in view of the fact that the weather was clear and the light good.
The R. C. A. F. investigators said there was no indication of sabotage. They explained that a fire in the engine could have touched off an explosion in the plane's wing gasoline tanks.
Sgt. LONG said the plane was flying at 2,000 feet when the fire broke out.
"I knew we were going in," he said. "I knew we had to jump or die."
He said the rest of the passengers declared they would stay with the plane in hopes the pilot would be able to land it safely, despite the pilot's orders to bail out. Sgt. LONG tried to push them out of the door, he said, but when they refused he jumped alone from 700 feet.
The body of the 57-year-old STEINHARDT, his clothing still smoldering, was dragged from the shattered tail section of the plane.
The crash occurred a few minutes after STEINHARDT and his party left Rockcliffe airport at Ottawa on a business trip to New York.
STEINHARDT, veteran diplomat on both sides of the Iron Curtain and wealthy lawyer and director of numerous corporations, had been ambassador to Canada since 1948. He began his diplomatic career in 1933 and served as chief of diplomatic missions in Sweden, Peru, Russia, Turkey and Czechoslovakia at critical periods before, during and after the war.
The others who died were:
CAPT. THOMAS G. ARCHIBALD, 34, of Union Springs, Ala., pilot of the plane and assistant air attache at the Ottawa embassy.
LT. COL. WAYNE F. TRUEBLOOD, 35, Kansas City, Kan., attached to the R.C.A.F. as an exchange officer.
LT. MARCEL (MARK) BELANGER, 29, New Bedford, Mass., an exchange officer attached to the R.C.A.F.
The News Palladium Benton Harbor Michigan 1950-03-29