Summersville, WV Private Plane Crash, Apr 1961



Summerville -- A New York Presbyterian minister, his wife and their two children were killed in the crash of a light plane in the woods about 10 miles south of here Thursday.
The single engine Bellanca was en route to Roanoke, Va., via Huntington and Charleston from Lexington, Ky., when it plunged out of the sky about 4:10 p.m.
The victims were identified as:
REV. FRANCIS BARR ALLAN, 33; his wife, LAURICE, 30; his daughter, ARDITH, 12, and his son, FRANCIS, JR., 9.
MR. ALLAN, who was pastor of the State Street Presbyterian Church in Schenectady, N.Y., only learned to fly last summer. He just recently had purchased half ownership in the plane from Howard Clark of Schenectady.
Beckley State police said the cause of the crash hasn't been determined.
However, an eye-witness to the crash. LONNIE JONES of Mt. Nebo, Nicholas County, said the plane apparently was experiencing engine difficulty before it crashed.
"It sounded like the motor died then started again," he told the Nicholas County sheriff's office. "It was very low."
"Next thing I noticed it started turning flip-flops and crashed. There was a big noise. It didn't burn."
JONES lives near the crash scene and said the plane came right over his house.
The crash scene was placed near the J. ELMER O'DELL Farm on W. Va. 19 near Mt. Nebo.
The plane crashed about 25 minutes after it left Kanawha Airport in Charleston.
The Federal Aviation Agency flight service in Charleston said the plane landed to check the weather and refile a flight plan.
The plane left Lexington at 12:05 p.m. with MR. ALLAN at the controls. The ALLANS had been visiting his mother in Lexington.
State police said the four bodies were recovered from the wreckage and were taken to WHite Funeral Home at Summersville for identification.
Howard White, the funeral home director, said the plane was a "twisted wreck, with the motor completely buried in the ground."
The four occupants apparently died instantly and their bodies were "badly mangled," he said.
Rescue parties used a tractor and wagon to move about two miles over a logging road from U.S. 19. White said the road ran within about 50 feet of the crash scene, which was a field of brush on the side of a ridge near a wooded area.
It took about three hours to reach the bodies from the main highway and return them there.
MR. ALLEN, who originally was from Maine, moved to Schenectady two years ago. His father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers in Canada.

Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1961-04-07