Elizabeth, NJ Airliner Crash Kills 56, Dec 1951
One witness told reporters that the plane fell "like a jet," taking with it telephone and light wires as it roared narrowly over the roofs of business structures. In its flight, it narrowly missed the post office and the Elks Club.
At Newark Airport, a man who gave his name at GEORGE COLLINS said he had just put his mother, his sister and the latter's two young sons aboard the plane. Then he watched in horror as "the right engine began smoking badly on the takeoff."
It required the entire length of the field before it gained 50 feet of altitude, he told newsmen, and two fire engines trailed it as it struggled to rise.
A few minutes later, the fire company and emergency apparatus of Union City sighted the plane, its engine afire, in the air and began following it on the ground. The Union City trucks were among the first on the scene when the aircraft fell to earth.
Family Wiped Out.
Three hundred police, joined by all available fire equipment and ambulances rushed to the scene. Red Cross and other disaster units followed. Three priests waded into the river, trying to administer last rites to victims trapped in the flaming wreckage.
Most of the passengers on the plane, owned by Miami Airlines of Miami, were said to be Portuguese and were wearing work clothes. It was reported that one complete family of four was wiped out.
The first Elizabeth police reaching the scene radioed back an urgent plea for more baskets in which to place bodies. At the Alfred C. Haines Funeral Home, where a temporary morgue was set up, attendants said bodies were being brought in "right and left." An additional morgue was set up in the funeral home's garage. By evening, 30 bodies had been recovered.
Firemen said they were "almost shoveling the bodies out. The blackened bodies were placed in blankets and relayed to shore on planks hurried from an adjoining junk yard.
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