Eagle Lake, TX Commuter Plane Crashes, Sep 1991
COMMUTER PLANE EXPLODES, CRASHES; 14 KILLED.
Eagle Lake, Texas -- (AP) -- A Continental Express commuter plane crashed Wednesday after a fiery explosion blew off a wing, according to witnesses. All 14 people aboard were killed, authorities said.
The twin-engine plane crashed during a flight from Laredo to Houston, spewing wreckage over a four-mile stretch of southeast Texas farmland.
The late morning crash occurred about 60 miles west of Houston, killing the occupants of Flight 2574, said Mike Cox, a state Department of Public Safety spokesman.
The airline said the plane, an Embraer-120, carried 11 passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant. The victims' names were not immediately released, and Continental said it would likely be Thursday before a list was ready.
Continental President Stephen Kolski said two of the passengers were bound for Houston, with the other nine continuing to other destinations. The crew was based in Houston, he said.
The Brazilian-made E-120, also known as the Brasilia, can carry up to 30 passengers in addition to its three-person crew. It is the same as one involved in an April crash near Brunswick, Ga., that killed former Sen. John Tower, astronaut Manley "Sonny" Carter, Jr., and 21 others.
Witnesses to Wednesday's crash said they heard explosions and saw a fireball, but Kolski labeled explosion claims "unconfirmed."
The FBI was joining the crash investigation, but spokesman Charles Kearney would not say why.
"I was in the field about two miles from where it landed," said Charlie Labay, 76, a rice farmer. "I heard a loud explosion. My son said, 'Look, daddy, there's a ball of fire!'"
"It was just spinning and just coming straight down."
Steven Mahalite, a resident of nearby Mathews, said he heard an explosion from his office two miles away. His brother, who was working in a nearby field, said he looked up and saw a ball of fire and only later realized it was a plane.
Cary Labay said the plane "was going round and round. The left-hand wing was off of it, was blown off. It was on fire."
Vance Duncan, whose family owns the ranch where debris landed, said, "It was still burning when I got there. The fire truck was already there trying to put the fire out. It's not a pretty sight."
Darius Brisco, a 41-year-old volunteer ambulance driver who was at the crash site, said he saw charred bodies within the plane's wreckage and two bodies about 20 feet outside the wreckage.
A physician from Eagle Lake Hospital went to the scene, but there were in identifiable remains to be taken to the hospital, said the hospital's administrator, Jim Buckner.
The burned-out wreckage of the plane came to rest in the middle of a cornfield. While the nose appeared almost unscathed, the roof and sides were gone, leaving the cabin open to the sky.
Debris was scattered over a four-mile area, Cox said. A piece of the tail was found in the nearby Colorado River, Cox said. An engine was near the river.
Dr. Jose Ugarte, an FAA official on the scene, speculated that the passengers died on impact.
Rescue workers had removed the bodies by mid-afternoon Wednesday. They were being taken to the Harris County Morgue.
In a Houston news conference, Continental's Kolski said the 3 1/2 year-old aircraft, which had logged 7,229 hours, had experienced no previous mechanical problems and had last been inspected in November and was scheduled for another checkup in March.
Galveston Daily News Texas 1991-09-12
Partial List of Casualties:
BRAD PATRIDGE, 29, pilot, Kingwood, Texas.
CLINT RODOSOVICH, 43, first officer, Houston, Texas.
NANCY REED, 33, flight attendant, Humble, Texas.
ALBERT Z. GOLMAN, 59, Scottsdale, Arizona.
GUILLERMINA VALDES DE VILLALBA, 51, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
PHILLIP VUONG, 27, Laredo, Texas.
EDY AUGUSTO MALDONADO, 28, Quito, Ecuador.
ERIKA COLORADO DE TAMEZ, Monterrey, Mexico.