Jacksonville, FL Airliner Crashes On Landing, Dec 1955



Plane Was Enroute From Miami to New York; Marks Third Serious Air Accident That Has Occurred In Florida Within Three Days.

Jacksonville, Fla. (AP) -- An Eastern Airlines Constellation bound from Miami to Boston crashed and burned on its landing run early today, killling all 17 persons aboard.
It was the third air crash in Florida in three days.
Monday, two Air Force bombers crashed over the outskirts of Tampa midway down the Buld of Mexico coast killing eight men. A few house later an Air Force jet and a bomber collided over Port St. Joe, 200 miles up the Guld coast, killing three men and leaving three missing.
On the shattered Constellation was the body of C. B. THRIFT of Miami, an Eastern Airlines accounting department employe, being shipped to Washington, D. C., for burial. The 47-year-old war veteran had died Saturday of a heart attack.
The plane was only a quarter mile from the end of its runway at the airport when it apparently came in too low, hit the top of a tree in the early morning darkness and plunged to the ground.
The airport said visibility was 1/2 mile, the ceiling 300 feet.
The plane's passengers apparently never had time to try to escape. The cabin was twisted and mashed.
Five of the dead were crew members.
Sixteen of the bodies were badly burned. It was three hours after the 3:40 a. m. crash before firemen could remove them.
Witnesses said the plane appeared to be in no trouble as it started on its landing run at the port 12 miles north of Jacksonville.
The last word from the pilot, Capt. TOM McBRIEN, was that he was coming in for a landing.
LEROY CONNELL, a boilermaker, was drinking coffee when he looked out a window of his home in the thinly wooded, sparsely settled area.
"I saw the landing lights go on, then there was a sound -- it might have been an explosion or the sound the plane made as it hit the tops of the trees," he said.
"The big ship fell but there was no fire until it hit the ground."
WILLIAM HESS, a foundry worker, was in the yard of his home when he heard the plane coming in. He looked up.
"It appeared to hit the top of some pine trees only about 50 feet from where I was standing," he said. "It sounded like it was in good mechanical condition but it seemed just to come in too low. It hit the top of the trees, hit the dirt, then burst into flames. I took off for help."
Wreckage was strewn along a path of about 200 yards. The wings were sheared off and the four engines torn from their moorings.
Small blazes started up in the dry woodland and fire fighters fought for several hours before being able to approach the twisted mass which had been the cabin.
The cabin appeared to have been ripped open, then smashed into a sort of disjointed oblong shape. A small part of the after cabin broke off and remained intact except for a split along the top.
One big pine tree was snapped and it lay across the rear of the cabin wreckage, still smoking as firemen began removing the bodies. The main part of the wreckage was only a short distance from one of the few houses in the area, just across Highway 17 which leads past the airport. No houses were hit. A chicken coop was torn.
The plane sheared off the top of half a dozen tall pines and took the top out of a large oak tree. It swept a path about 100 feet wide.
Sgt. W. F. JOHNSTON of the Duval County Highway Patrol, said the plane struck the ground 66 yards from where the first tree was hit, then skidded 26 yards where it knocked down an oak 12 inches in diameter.

Names Of The Victims.
Miami, Fla. (AP) -- Eastern Air Lines today gave this list of 12 passengers and five crew members killed in the crash of its Constellation near Jacksonville, Fla.:
MR. and MRS. ISRAEL de BARON, Alejandro Dumas 139, Mexico City, flying to Washington.
CARLOS BERGUIDO, 135 Rose Lane, Haverford, Pa.
MRS. LUCY ANDERSON, Hialeah, Fla., wife of EAL copilot H. R. ANDERSON, flying to Boston.
MISS RAY V. GWINN, 1300 Guava Isle, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., flying to Providence, R. I.
EUGENIO GRIMM, Managua, Nicarague, flying to New York.
MRS. EVELYN PAQUIN, 64 North St., New Bedford, Mass.
DR. MAURICE PORTNOY, 119 Plymouth St., New Bedford, Mass.
MR. and MRS. ISRAEL PORTNOY, 228 Mt. Pleasant Ave., New Bedford, Mass.
J. CILROLA, 50-19 210th St., Bayside, Queens, N. Y.
MRS. G. V. RHODES, 1201 Southwest Court, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Capt. TOM McBRIEN, the pilot, from New York.
JOHN RINYN, co-pilot, from New York.
C. C. DEVINE, flight engineer, from New York.
CONSTANCE RIOSECO, stewardess, 60 Rutgers St., New York, N. Y.
EMMA WILLIAMS, stewardess, Winston-Salem, N. C.

Fort Pierce News Tribune Florida 1955-12-21