Roselawn, IN Commuter Plane Crashes, Oct 1994
68 KILLED IN COMMUTER PLANE CRASH.
AMERICAN EAGLE FLIGHT 4184 MAY HAVE BEEN IN HOLDING PATTERN DURING STORM.
Roselawn, Ind. (AP) -- First there was a rumble, then the high-pitched whine of engines at full throttle as the doomed commuter plane plummeted to the ground "like a black streak coming down."
American Eagle Flight 4184 from Indianapolis to Chicago crashed in a driving rainstorm Monday afternoon abut 60 miles short of its destination, killing all 64 passengers and four crew members.
Witnesses said wreckage of the twin-engine propjet was scattered across a muddy 40-acre field in northwest Indiana, 30 miles south of Gary. Searchers just shook their heads. "What we did see, we didn't like," said firefighter John Knapp.
Firefighter Jerry Cramer said he talked with emergency workers returning from the crash site. "They said any piece of the plane was small enough it could have been carried out by hand," he said.
"There's not one body that's intact."
Dawn brought no relief from the cold rain and wind that continued through the night and impeded efforts to recover bodies and wreckage. State troopers and Newton County highway workers labored through the night to build a temporary gravel road through the quagmire to the wreckage.
Other state troopers established a perimeter limiting public access to the site, and when one motorist drove past an unmanned cruiser toward the site, he was quickly chased down by officers and escorted from the scene.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board gathered at a hotel about 20 miles north in Merrillville to organize their investigation.
NTSB chairman Jim Hall said searchers found the plane's cockpit voice recorder Monday night within hours of the crash.
"This morning, we will attempt to find the flight data recorder so that those two instruments can be returned to Washington, D.C., to our headquarters to be read," Hall said.
Hall called the crash site a scene of "utter devastation."
"We'll be looking at the power plants, the systems, the structure, whether air traffic control operations and human factors ... all of those areas will be closely examined."
The weather, by itself, did not seem to explain the crash, he said.
"Certainly airplanes operate every day in this type of weather," he said. "We'll have to look to see whether there were any unusual weather occurrences that might cause the result."
Hall said the investigation would also include reports that the plane was in a holding pattern when it went down.
"That again is an area we will start looking at this morning and investigate very carefully as to how long that plane was in a holding pattern, and exactly why," he said.
"We'll be interviewing the air traffic control individuals, we'll be looking at the records and extensively looking in that area."