New Bedford, MA Plane Crashes Short Of Runway, Sep 1957


15 Injured As NA Ship Hits Swamp.

New Bedford, Sept. 16 (AP) -- A Northeast Airlines plane with 24 persons aboard, flying from Boston to New York through fog, crashed and broke up in a wooded swamp last night.
The pilot, copilot and eight passengers were killed. Fourteen passengers and the hostess were injured and hospitalized. Doctors immediately placed at least five on the danger list.
The plane was only half a mile from the New Bedford Municipal Airport and was preparing to make a scheduled instrument landing when it crashed through trees and swamp growth and cracked up on a tiny knoll.
Heard Crash.
Two airport employes said they heard the plane crash at 8:50 p. m., but it was nearly three hours before the first rescue team could reach the scene. The only access to the spot was by foot. Fire fighters' ladders were used as bridges across the swamp and the adjoining Pashkamansett River.
DR. ROBERT SIEGEL, 46, gave this description: "The swamp was soggy and mud and water oozed up to our knees when we first attempted to cross it. We broke branches to form a bridge and tried again. After several attempts we made it."
"Some people were outside the plane. They were moaning. We entered the plane first. We checked the dead. We got hypos to the survivors and bandaged the injured."
"Like Eggshell"
GEORGE NELSON, building custodian at the airport, said on his return from the crash scene: "Both wings of the plane were ripped off, and it looked like the plane had nosed in at a 45-degree angle. The fuselage was torn open like an eggshell. The nose of the plane was about 50 feet from the fuselage."
GEORGE H. DANFORTH, 55, New York, one of the passengers, said: "When I came to, believe it or not, I was 30 feet away from the plane. I was strapped in my seat, with my head down and my feet up, looking up into a sea of mud."
DANFORTH suffered only a rib fracture.
The plane a twin-engine DC3, was on a flight from Boston to Hyannis, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, New Bedford and New York.
Due in New Bedford at 7:42 p.m., it took off from Martha's Vineyard almost an hour late because of the murky weather.
WESLIE LAGOON, on duty at the New Bedford airport control tower, last heard from the plane at 8:46 p.m.
No Response.
He said the plane radioed the control tower that it was making a routine approach on instrument landing. LAGOON called back but got no response.
He said the ceiling at the airport was 200 feet, visibility was one mile and it was foggy.
Four minutes after contacting the airport, the plane crashed. It broke up into several sections but there was no fire.
NANCY LEHAN, 24, Brockton, Mass., the stewardess, said the plane was making the approach to New Bedford airport when it hit tree tops and crashed. She added that there was no warning of the crash.
MISS LEHAN'S injuries were listed as fractured pelvis and leg and a possible punctured lung.
Combat Flyer.
The pilot, VINCENT L. PITTS, 35, Wellesley, Mass., was a combat flyer in World War II and flew in the Berlin airlift of 1948-49 before he was made a flight captain by Northeast airlines in 1953.
Copilot ROGER W. SWEETLAND, JR., 33, Arlington, Mass., joined Northeast as a pilot in 1952 and was made flight captain in November 1956.
CHARLES A. CHASE, a vice-president of the First National City Bank of New York, died of injuries more than seven hours after the crash.
Among the injured treated at St. Luke's Hospital was MRS. JOAN VON KOSCHEMBAHR, 32, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, daughter of millionaire industrialist CHARLES GRIEF RAIBLE of Cleveland and wife of a German Baron.
Also injured was BUFORD RUBIN, 30, operator of a Washington public relations firm, who boarded the plane at Martha's Vineyard with MRS. VON KOSCHEMBAHR.
Northeast Airlines said that of the 21 passengers in last night's crash, seven boarded the plane at Nantucket and 14 at Martha's Vineyard.
The plane had left Boston at 5:50 p.m. with 21 passengers. All those 21 had left the plane -- 5 at Hyannis, 13 at Nantucket and 3 at Martha's Vineyard.
HENRY BURROUGHS, an Associated Press photographer, said rescuers carried the dead and injured across two long fire department ladders stretched across the swamp underbrush. A rope was strung from the wreckage to dry land for use as a guide line.
KENNETH MORRISON, a New Bedford Standard-Times reporter, said many of the firemen, volunteers and doctors bogged down in the swamp and had to be pulled free.
He said: "Several false entrances into the woods contributed to the delay in reaching the dead and injured. It took an hour to find a crossing place for a make-shift bridge."
Northeast Airlines President GEORGE E. GARDNER, commenting on the crash, said, "It is a great tragedy and everyone of us at Northeast Airlines is doing everything we can to help."
A spokesman for the airlines said the ceiling and visibility at the time of the crash were within allowable limits.

Boston, Sept. 16 (AP) -- Northeast Airlines today released the following list of casualties in last night's DC3 plane crash in New Bedford:
Capt. VINCENT L. PITTS, 35, Wellesley, pilot.
ROGER W. SWEETLAND, JR., 33, Arlington, co-pilot.
ALAN MELHADO, Nantucket, Mass., and 120 Broadway, New York.
ELI SCHLESS, 675 Madison avenue, New York.
MRS. MARY BROWNELL, 47, 780 Locust street, Fall River.
RUSSELL D. BELL, 4625 Grand Blvd., Montreal and Edgartown.
D. L. CHAPMAN, 12 East 88th St., New York.
CHARLES CHACE, First National City Bank of New York, New York.
NANCY J. LEHAN, 24, 66 Sycamore avenue, Brockton, Mass., stewardess, undetermined injuries, poor condition.
GEORGE H. DANFORTH, New York City, possible rib fractures, fair to good.
GERALD BLAND, 106 Barclay street, Newark, N. J., undetermined injuries, fair to good.
MISS NANCY BLAIR, Paterson, N. J., undetermined injuries, critical condition.
MRS. CHARLES B. BLAIR, NANCY'S mother, same address, undetermined injuries, fair to good.
JAMES S. JEFFERS, Red Bank, N. J., undetermined injuries, poor condition.
EMILIE JACOBSON, 216 East 75th St., New York, fair to good.
MRS. HELGA DUDMAN, 120 East 76th St., New York, fair to good.
BUFORD RUBIN, Cleveland, undetermined injuries, critical condition.
MRS. JOAN VON KOSCHEMBAHR, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, back injuries.
CHARLES ROSE, New Rochelle, N. Y., undetermined injuries, fair to good.
MRS. CHARLES ROSE, wife, same address, undetermined injuries, critical.
HOWARD W. MORSE, 53, of Edgartown and Anna Marie Island, Fla., shoulder and face injuries, fair to good.

Fitchburg Sentinel Massachusetts 1957-09-16