Hartsville, FL Army Helicopter Crash Feb 1958


Special to The News.
Hartsville, Feb. 8 - An Army Helicopter enroute from Augusta, Ga., to Ft. Bragg, N.C., was left a mass of twisted wreckage after crashing into swampland about 10 miles north of Hartsville last night.
An officer was killed and two other members of the crew seriously injured in the mishap.
CAPT. JOHN H. ASBURY, 35, of Ft. Bragg and Cape Elizabeth, Me., was killed.
The crash occurred during a blinding rainstorm approximately 7 p.m. Friday night, according to reports. The plane lost radio contact at 6:33 p.m. when it reported with the Columbia airport.
A resident of the community told a reporter that he heard a plane circling overhead about 7 last night.
ALVA WILLIAM KEPNER, 27, Burbank, Calif., and Sp.2C KENNETH R. STRUCHEN, 25, of Garvin, Minn., remained in Byerly Hospital here tonight in serious, but favorable condition.
Shock and exposure seemed to be basis, for the pair's conditions. They, with the dead officer, remained in the plane overnight with temperatures at freezing and below.
A rescue party, consisting of members of Hartsville's Rescue Squad, arrived at the swampy scene a short time after two boys discovered the wreckage.
It took almost four hours to rip the fuselage and free the two injured men and remove the body of Captain ASBURY.
The injured were rushed from the scene by way of tractor to an awaiting ambulance and thence to Byerly Hospital about 10 a.m. An additional two hours were consumed in getting the body out of the plane.
So dense was the undergrowth and wet the swampland, the Rescue Squad had to carry equipment to the scene on a diesel tractor and trailer.
The mangled plane was located about a mile off busy U.S. Highway 15.
ASBURY was commander of the 8th Transport Helicopter Co. at Ft. Bragg. Officials said the cause of the crash was not determined, and a board would investigate.
Further report on injuries to the survivors noted KEPNER being treated for a broken leg, shock and exposure. STRUCHEN sustained a broken shoulder, shock and exposure.
The H21 Helicopter attached to the outfit commanded by Capt. ASBURY was supposedly due back in Ft. Bragg late last night. Its position was traced to near Columbia at 6:33 p.m.
Forty military aircraft searched a 10-mile wide strip between Ft. Bragg and Columbia early this morning before the two men, residents of the area, came upon the plane and notified authorities.

Florence Morning News South Carolina 1958-02-09