Lynchburg, VA Train Crashes Into Private Plane, May 1976



Lynchburg, Va. (AP) -- Four people died and a fifth person was injured Saturday when a small plane crashed onto railroad tracks and lay undiscovered until a train plowed into the wreckage two hours later.
No one aboard the 18-car, Atlanta-to-Washington Southern Railway passenger train was injured.
Lou Wells, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the twin-engine Piper Aztec apparently crashed about 3:30 a.m. as it was trying to return to the fog-shrouded Lynchburg Municipal Airport shortly after it took off.
Wells speculated the plane ay have experienced engine trouble and as the pilot tried to bring the craft back it missed the runway and came down on the tracks about a half-mile from the airport.
State police and rescuers said the four dead persons apparently were killed instantly.
The plane, with four dead passengers and a critically injured one, lay on the tracks until the train crashed into the wreckage about 4:55 a.m., police said.
The dead were identified as DANIEL BUCK CANDLER, JR., 33, the pilot; KENT MANLY JACKSON, 33; and MICKEY LEE ROWLETT, 25, all of Lynchburg, and KIMBERLY ANN KROLOFF, 19, of Westport, Conn.
A fifth person aboard the plane, MRS. KATHY DUPREE, 24, of Lynchburg, survived both the initial crash and the subsequent train-plane crash, police said. She was taken to a local hospital where she was reported in critical condition with multiple injuries.
Area residents said they heard the plane make at least three passes over the airport around 3 a.m., but a federal Aviation Administration spokesman said it was likely the residents heard other planes.
He said, "It isn't likely the pilot, if he was having trouble, would circle around three times before bringing the plane down."
The airport's control tower is not manned between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and any pilot who wants to land or take off uses a single runway that remains lighted through the night, the FAA spokesman said.
He said rain began falling at the airport about 11 p.m., and the fog rolled in about midnight.
Pat Powell, chief dispatcher for Southern Railway, said, "The train crewmen said they saw it (the plane) sitting along the south track when they came out of a curve with just the nose of the plane hanging over the rails."
"The train just hit the plane a glancing blow and pushed it off the rails."

Danville Register Virginia 1976-05-02