Savannah, GA Liner Crashes Into Marsh, Jan 1948




Savannah, Ga., Jan. 7 -- (AP) -- A chartered plane with both engines rasping and loaded with homeward bound Puerto Ricans drove headlong into a desolate Savannah River marsh today and exploded, killing 17 persons and injuring nine.
Sixteen of those aboard the twin engine plane died on the spot, but the seventeenth, a girl about 10 years old succumbed on a U. S. Engineer boat enroute to Savannah.
The dead included ALVINO ANTOPLOTT, the pilot. RUMOND EICK of Tenton, N. J., co-pilot and only other crew member aboard the DC-3, was among the survivors.
The passengers, with the exception of a young soldier and a travel agent, were Puerto Ricans enroute to their homeland from New York.
In New York, MANUEL CASTANO, head of the CASTANO Travel Bureau, said the Puerto Ricans aboard the plane was one of a number of such groups for which his agency had handled reservations. The trips, he added, have been leaving New York "about once a week."
The Columbus Travel Agency in New York said the travel agent aboard the plane was MARIEL CHANNDER, about 22, a representative of Puerto Rican World Airways at Santuree, Puerto Rico, who was returning home after a business trip in New York. The CASTANO agency's list, however, gave his name as MAURICIO CHAUBEN.
One of the survivors OCTAVIO PINEL of San Juan and wounded veteran of World War II, told newsmen "that the motor's didn't sound so good when we took off from Philadelphia and from Raleigh."
PINEL, who spent months in a hospital recovering from wounds suffered at Strasbourg, Germany, said he and fellow passengers noticed the plane began circling just before the crash and that the motors were running slowly.
"I was thrown out of the plane and landed about 10 feet from it," said PINOL, "my hair caught fire after the explosion and I put my head under water. The water was about two feet deep."
"I saw a woman with both legs cut off. I tried to help a little girl. She was covered with blood and seemed to have both legs broken. She died in the life boat." PINOL suffered shoulder and head injuries.
Another survivor WILLIAM SCHRADER, 18 year old Army private of Dillonville, Ohio, said he was asleep at the time of the crash and work up to find himself hurtling through the air. "It seemed I fell about a hundred yards, my back hurt terribly." SCHRADER was headed for San Juan where he is stationed.
EICK said that all of the survivors with the exception of the young girl, were blown clear of the ship with him. He rescued the girl from the wreckage.
The crash occurred at 7:56 a.m. EST, but it was nearly two and a half hours before a party from the U. S. Engineer boat Do____ reached the scene.
First the engineers brought out four of the more seriously injured. Then they went back after the other survivors.

Florence Morning News South Carolina 1948-01-08