New York City, NY Plane Crashes Into East River, Feb 1959

BIG JET AIRLINER PLUNGES INTO EAST RIVER, KILLING 65 PERSONS.

PLANE MISSED AIRPORT IN DENSE FOG.

New York (AP) -- A glistening new jet-powered American Airlines plane with 73 persons aboard plunged into the chilling, fog covered waters of the East River with a shattering crash late last night. Sixty-five apparently perished, despite feverish rescue efforts by harbor craft.
The plane's pilot, using instruments because of the murky weather conditions, was feeling his way gingerly toward a runway at LaGuardia Airport after a flight from Chicago.
But for some undetermined reason, the big four-engine turbo-prop craft smacked into the water and burst apart about half a mile from the shore end of the runway.
Some of the passengers and crew were flung from or floated out of the wreckage before it sand to the river bottom 30 to 36 feet below.
Tug Rescues Eight.
A tugboat chugging along a few hundred feet away cut loose two barges it was towing here from Connecticut and raced to the crash site. Crewmen leaped into the water or used boathooks to pull out the eight persons known to have survived. One was an eight year old boy.
A member of the tug's crew said the sights and sounds were something never to be forgotten.
"There seemed to be bodies all around, and there were continual screams for help," he said.
All through the night and ito a doleful gray, rainy dawn a huge array of boats searched the grimy river waters for bodies. By mid-morning only 10 had been recovered, leaving 48 still missing. The 8 survivors were in hospitals.
One woman, the mother of the rescued boy, also had been pulled from the water alive but died afterward. The boy said later his mother swam and held his head above water before he was rescued.
Bodies Swept Away.
Swirling river current, plus rain and wind up to 40 m.p.h., hampered the search for other bodies, and gave rise to fears that some of them might be swept miles out into Long Island Sound.
The site of the crash was marked by a few floating pieces of the $1,700,000 Lockheed Electra airliner -- a type put into service with great fanfare only a few weeks ago.
There also were some heartbreaking other reminders of the tragedy -- such as a baby's glove, a woman's shoe, a package of letters, a knapsack and a woman's dress.
It was a irony of fate that the tugboat happened to be near the crash. New York Harbor tugs, ordinarily scurrying busily up and down the river waters, are now tied up by a strike of crewmen.
The tug which raced to the rescue, however, was not affected by the tieup because it is based in Connecticut.
TV Producer Missing.
Among the missing plane passengers persumed dead were BEULAH ZACHARY, producer of the Kukla, Fran and Ollie television program and RICHARD WINN, director of facility planning for Amercian Airlines.
The new turbo-prop airliners were designed to combine jet power with the advantages of the propeller. The engines operate on the turbine principle.
The liner was easing toward LaGuardia through light rain and fog, in 38-degree weather with the ceiling about 300 to 400 feet.
It plummeted into the river between 2,500 and 4,000 feet short of the shoreline start of the runway. The force of the impact cracked the plane in two.
The disaster scene was only about half a mile from Rikers Island, where a Northeast Airliner crashed after takeoff in a snowstorm Feb. 1, 1957. Twenty of the 94 persons aboard the Northeast plane were killed.
The American airliner crashed at 11:54 p.m. (EST), 49 minutes after it was due at LaGuardia.

Continued

Comments

God bless your father and

God bless your father and his heroic efforts and compassion. My parents, Joe and Jean Kaye died in the crash leaving behind four children. Of course this tragedy changed the course of all our lives. You should be very proud of your father. I'm sorry that this haunted his life as well as mine!

My father, Edward Gottlieb was one of the survivors

My father, Edward Gottlieb was one of the people pulled from the American Airlines crash at La Guardia, 1959. My father was 49 years old and I was 7 and a half years old. He lived to be almost 88 years old, and passed away in January 1998. The event still haunts me and I am grateful to the tugboat captain and the doctors who saved his life, the internet and the folks who have posted their stories here.

Mae Markidis (my great-aunt)

Hello,

I realize this is a long shot, but I'm just finding out about Mae Markidis and the details of her death. My mom, Mae's niece, is looking for more information on her Aunt Mae. She was adored by my mother and until recently, my mom did not know much about her death. If anyone knows any stories that you can share about Mae, we would greatly appreciate it. My mom's maiden name is Dorothy Irwin. Until reading this website, my mom had no idea about Mae's friends coming to the house as her father would not let her attend the funeral and she did not know that anyone carried her aunts name and was so happy to find that out. My email address is jaimie.mi@gmail.com

Thank you so much.

Jaimie

Aunt Mae Markidis

Hi, my name is Diane[Diana] and Mary [Antula]Markidis was my mother. I noticed you seem to know a lot about our family history and would love to hear from you. My mom never spoke much about her family but after she passed my brother Michael found a ton of old pictures and I dont even know who half of the people in them are and would love to put names to some of the pics. She never shared stories with us and all I have found out so far I have found on the internet and a few things from Aunt Pinky[Nellie] who I dont see. I snooped years ago and kind of knew there were other kids involved with my mom, and only found out Dorothy and Jim are my sister and brother from Aunt Nellie. I really would love to learn more and can share pics if you would like, I have scanned all of them.

Please, contact me if possible at dkoczacik@yahoo.com
Thank you
Diane

Mae Markidis

Im not sure if I replied to you before, since in the past I only visited this page occasionally. Mae Markidis was my Aunt, although we never met as I was born in 1961, My mother Mary was her sister. I have old pics of her but nothing recent except from newspaper clippings. I have been in contact with a survivor who was with her at the time of the crash, and she has filled me in with interesting information about that night, but I would really LOVE to learn more about her. My mother rarely spoke of her Im guessing because it was to painfull. I would love to learn more and you can contact me at dkoczacik@yahoo.com.....Thank you Diane

Mae Markidis

Twins run in the family. I am Marys daughter Diana, and have a sister Dorothy and brothers Jim and Mike. Jim was named after his grandfather, of course its a Greek thing. I have 3 kids and my daughter has twins, a boy and a girl. I was born in 1961 so I never met her either but Dorothy and Jim did and She used to take Dorothy school shopping and to the beach, where all the men would stare at her because she was such a beauty. I would love to connect to learn more about the family history since my mother didnt speak much about it. I guess a lot of it was very painfull to her. They were such a crazy colorful family from what I have heard. My email is dkoczacik@yahoo.com

thank you

JOAN ZELLER: STEWARDESS ON ILL FATED AMERICAN AIRLINE FLIGHT

HELLO, 9/21/13

IT IS ONLY BY CHANCE I HAVE COME TO READ THIS WEB PAGE AND YOUR SHORT MESSAGE. IT PLEASES ME TO TELL YOU, YOUR AUNT INDEED WAS EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL, WITH BIG SOFT BROWN EYES, CREAMY COMPLEXION AND A SMILE THAT WOULD MELT AN ICEBERG. SHE WAS SWEET, KIND AND THOUGHTFUL TOO.

WE HAD JUST FINISHED A SNACK SERVICE FLYING BACK TO LA GUARDIA FROM CHICAGO, AND WERE SITTING ACROSS FROM ONE ANOTHER CHATTING WITH TWO PASSENGERS IN THE LOUNGE. SHE HAD JUST ASKED ME TO JOIN HER AT A FAVORITE HANG OUT FOR CREWS OVER IN JACKSON HEIGHTS, WHEN THE FATAL CONCUSSION OCCURRED.

THE LAST I SAW OF MAE WAS A MURKY FIGURE IN THE DIM EMERGENCY LIGHT. SHE BORE THE UNMISTAKEN SILHOUETTE OF OUR FLIGHT CAP STILL IN PLACE, SLOWLY MAKING HER WAY WITH OTHERS TO THE EMERGENCY EXIT IN THE THIGH DEEP WATER, BEFORE OUR END OF THE CABIN TOTALLY SANK TO THE BOTTOM OF THE EAST RIVER.

I WAS STILL PINNED DOWN BY MY SEAT BELT BUT THE RISING WATER GAVE BOUYANCY TO MY BODY AND FREED MY LEFT HAND SO I COULD USE BOTH HANDS TO PULL THE LONG WEBBING THROUGH THE BUCKLE OF THE SEAT BELT. I REMEMBER GETTING TO MY FEET AND LATER CLINGING TO THE REAR HORIZONTAL STABILIZER WITH MR. BOYD, MRS. SULLIVAN AND HER 8 YEAR OLD SON, BOBBY. HOWEVER, I LOST CONSCIOUSNESS INTERMITTENTLY AND HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT WAS GOING ON OUTSIDE MY OWN DILEMMA AND WAS DEFINITELY IN AN ALTERED STATE OF MIND.

I NEVER KNEW SHE WAS MISSING UNTIL THE HOSPITAL WAS READY TO DISCHARGE ME 6 WEEKS LATER. THERE WAS MUCH CONFUSION AND MANY SECRETS BEING WITHHELD FROM THE SURVIVORS BECAUSE OF OUR SHAKY EMOTIONAL LEVELS. MOST OF US ASSUMED MANY GOT OUT OF THE PLANE,SURVIVED AND WERE IN OTHER HOSPITALS.

I HOPE THIS HELPS TO BRING CLOSURE FOR YOU. MAE IS SURELY READING THIS AND SENDING HER LOVE TO THE NEICE SHE NEVER GOT TO MEET AND HOLD, WHY ELSE WOULD I HAVE STUMBLED INTO THIS WEB PAGE?

FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME AND IF YOU CARE TO TALK I WILL GIVE YOU MY PHONE NUMBER AT THAT TIME..

CORDIALLY,
JOAN ZELLER

Father worked on tugboat

My Father was one of the men on the tugboat that pulled out the survivors. That day lived with him through his entire life. It haunted his dreams and his every day life wishing he could of helped more.

Mae Markidis

Mae Markidis is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery very near the Elmwood Avenue entrance near Strong Memorial Hospital. I believe that the gate is not open much anymore, because too many people visiting the hospital were parking for free. You would have to go in the main entrance and find your way over there. It is along that main road in the cemetery, just a few rows in, but you can see it from the road. (near the gate on Elmwood, on the east side of that main road directly by the gate). It is a rose-colored stone, shaped as a cross and there is a big picture of her right in the middle of the cross with her stewardess uniform and hat. She was so beautiful. My husband (Stephen) is her nephew (born in 1965 so he of course never met her) and she has two great-nieces who resemble her a lot (my daughter, Christina and my husband's cousin's daughter, Caitlin). Caitlin resembles her more, as she is Mae's twin brother (Stephen's) granddaughter. They are both beautiful young women.

Id like to know more about

Id like to know more about my Aunt Mae myself. My mother never spoke much about her family life but I am doing a family tree and am very interested in the past. I would love more info for myself and my grandchildren so they will have some of the past to be proud of. You can contact me a dkoczacik@yahoo.com anytime. I would also enjoy hearing about her and it is so great you carry her name as your middle name. Thank you and sorry it took so long for me to reply but I dont go on this page often. Thank you