Sioux City, IA Disabled Jet Crashes On Emergency Landing, July 1989
AT LEAST 178 SURVIVE FIERY JET CRASH.
UP TO 115 DIE ABOARD CHICAGO-BOUND PLANE.
Sioux City, Iowa -- In a tragedy that mixed miracles and heroism with horror and despair, a Chicago-bound United Airlines DC-10 crashed Wednesday in an explosive ball of fire as the pilot struggled without power to make an emergency landing at an Iowa airport.
More than half the people aboard the plane -- at least 178 -- were reported to have survived the crash. Sioux City police said 87 bodies were pulled from the wreckage, leaving 48 people unaccounted for.
United spokesman LAWRENCE M. NAGIS said 293 people were on board, including 282 passengers and 11 crew members.
The air disaster, coming a decade after 273 people were killed when an American Airlines DC-10 crashed in a field near Elk Grove Village, could be the second-deadliest in U.S. history.
But rescue workers were bouyed by the number of survivors, who miraculously lived after the jumbo jet crashed just short of the Sioux Gateway Airport and broke into several pieces as it cartwheeled toward the runway.
One of those survivors was an 8-year-old Prairie View boy, BEN RADTKE, who was flying alone and was cradled by another passenger, RON RHODE of Columbus, Ohio, as the crippled DC-10 crashed.
"The plane hit, bounced and we ended upside down. I let him go," RHODE said. The boy escaped when another passenger threw him out of the burning wreckage.
Another survivor, ROD VETTER of Arlington Heights, said passengers braced for the landing after the pilot announced the emergency landing.
"We ended up upside down in a cornfield with fire," said VETTER, who suffered a fractured neck. "We did everything we could to get people out of the airplane."
The 16-year-old plane had "complete hydraulic failure" before the crash just after 4 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman FRED FARRAR said. The tail engine failed, and this may have cause a hydraulic failure, said BOB RAYNESFORD, another FAA spokesman.
DENNIS LOVE, a certification official for the FAA in Des Plaines, said he believes the pilots on Flight 232 from Denver "probably did everything they could possibly do."
"The hydraulic system is the muscle of the plane, it's the power system. When the pilot realized he lost the hydraulic power, they had to do all the controls manually," LOVE said. "It's like losing the power steering in your car, you can still move it. But the DC-10 is a pretty big, rugged bird. It takes a whole lot to land it without power."
NAGIN said the Seattle-based cockpit crew was headed by Capt. A. C. HAYMES, a 33-year pilot for United. The three members of that cockpit crew were among the survivors. NAGIN said all three were hospitalized, although he could not report their condition.
Survivor CHARLES MARTZ of Castle Pines, Colo., said there was no panic after the pilot announced there was engine trouble. Then, just before landing, the pilot "came on and said that this may be more than a rough landing, so do the best you can to assume the (crash preparedness) position."
"Suitcases, paper, mail, clothes, unfortunately people, were laying all over the runway," said ED FORST, who witnessed the crash. "It must be scattered a good quarter of a mile down the runway."
The search for bodies was difficult because they were scattered in a field of corn 4 feet tall, authorities said.
Still, some people walked away from the wreckage.
One passenger, MELANIE CINCALA of Toledo, Ohio, said there was a fire on the plane, and a fireball "flashed past us." The plane burst into flames after she got off, she said.
"We could see the plane tumbling down the runway," said MARK SMITH, a witness who said he was working about 1,500 yards from the site. He said the plane broke into "15,000 different pieces." A couple said they found the plane's nose 75 miles away.
Maj. RICK SORENSEN, with the Iowa Air National Guard, said he had just landed his plane when the jetliner crashed.
"Shortly before touchdown .. the right wing began to dip or began to roll and the nose began to fall to a position of approximately 15 to 25 degrees right bank and possibly 10 degrees nose low," he told Cable News Network. "It was very apparent at that moment that he could not make a safe landing. The only question would have been how disastrous a landing would it be. It was a very disastrous landing. There were a lot of things falling off the plane."
SORENSEN said that while he was in the air he heard radio traffic from the pilot.
"The suggestion .. was that he could turn only in one direction and he was not sure he could make the runway. Then he turned left and headed for the southwest runway .. and everything appeared to be somewhat about normal," with the DC-10 approaching faster than usual.
The plane "bounced twice, flipped into the air and we were sitting there upside down and it began to fill up with smoke," said CLIFF MARSHALL of Columbus, Ohio, a passenger returning home from Denver. "The God opened a hole in the basement and I pushed a little girl out. I grabbed another, kept pulling them out until they didn't come no more."
MARSHALL said he though he helped a half-dozen out and then he ran.
Daily Herald Chicago Illinois 1989-07-20
SURVIVORS CAME IN ON WING AND A PRAYER.
After watching United Airlines Flight 232 careen end-over-end and break up in flames, Sioux City Police Captain RON BANDZA feared there would be no one alive to meet rescuers who rushed to the cornfield where the DC-10 crashed.
"I felt there was going to be death," BANDZA said Thursday. "When I went in the field, I saw people standing there. That amazed me very much. If you saw this thing flipping over and on fire -- it was like a firestorm."
In Wednesday's crash in Sioux City, Iowa, the numbers tell the amazing story. Of the 193 passengers who were taken to St. Luke's Regional Medical Center and Marian Hills Health Center in Sioux City, Iowa, nine were so badly hurt that they died shortly after they arrived. Sixty were admitted to the hospital.
But the remaining 124 were treated for minor injuries and released. Some escaped virtually without a scratch, St. Luke's social worker CESAR NARVAES said.
How did so many survive?
They might owe their lives to the skill of pilot A. C. HAYNES, to the airplane's speed and the angle of its descent, to the roll that sheared off its fuel-filled wings, or simply to the fortune that was with them when their seats were assigned, aviation experts said.
"It was a lottery," said passenger DEBI BELLIVEAU of Michigan City, Ind.
"I have no idea why some people survived and others died. I was in a place on the plane that didn't break apart," said RED VETTER of Arlington Heights, who also survived the crash.
Paradoxically, the breaks in the fuselage helped the survivors escape.
"At a point where we saw light, we climbed through some wires" and dropped into a field of corn, VETTER recounted.
Flilght attendant JAN MURRAY "saw a hole and got out of that hole. She said it opened, and she thinks the hand of the Lord opened it up," said JANE MURRAY of Chester, S. C., the woman's mother.
When they had boarded the flight in Denver, the passengers had even odds of surviving a crash. There is no evidence that any seat in a plane provides more protection that any other, said ALLEN MEARS of the Flight Safety Foundation.
"There's nothing that would indicate back, middle, or cockpit as the best place to be," MEARS said.
On Flight 232, passengers in the rear two thirds were protected by the fuselage, rescue workers said. Most of those who odied sat in the front, where the plane's walls were torn away.
Flight 232 "flew very low and slowly" before it went out of control and cartwheeled through the cornfield, said Sister MARY VIANNEA, 77, of Chicago.
For the sister the reason for the passengers' survival is clear.
"It was prayer, I don't care what anybody says," she said. "It was a miracle."
LIST OF SURVIVORS OF UNITED FLIGHT 232.
Capt. AL C. HAYNES, Seattle.
First Officer W. R. RECORDS.
Second Officer D. J. DVORAK.
Attendent VIRGINIA MURRAY, Pineville, N.C.
LYDIA ATWELL, Santa Fe, N. M.
BRUCE BONHAM, Littleton, Colo.
MELANIE CINCALA, Sylvania, Ohio.
CYNTHIA CLELAND, Charleston, S.C.
GERRY DOBSON, Pittsgrove, N.J.
VINCENTA ELEY, Lima, Ohio.
WILBUR ELEY, Lima, Ohio.
THOMAS ENGLER, Naperville, Ill.
TONY FEENEY, Casper, Wyo.
LEAH GOMEZ, Bloomfield, N. M.
PAUL GOMEZ, Bloomfield N. M.
JENNY HUDSPETH, Cheyenne, Wyo.
JAMES KAHL, North Huntingdon Township, Pa.
MARY KAHL, North Huntingdon Township, Pa.
DAVID LANDSBERGER, Caldwell, N. J.
BENJAMIN LEVINE, Prairie View, Ill.
ROBERT MARTZ, Tiffin, Ohio.
CLIFTON MARSHALL, Oslander, Ohio.
DEVON McKELVEY, Grand Junction, Colo.
DEBBIE McKELVEY, Grand Junction, Colo.
RYAN McKELVEY, Grand Junction, Colo.
RUTH ANN OSENBERG.
RUTH PEARISTAIN, Grand Junction, Colo.
TOM POSTLE, Newark, Ohio.
GARRY PRIEST, Northplanes, Colo.
AMY REYNOLDS, Moorcroft, Wyo.
DOUG REYNOLDS, Moorcroft, Wyo.
WILLIAM ROBERTSON, Wheston, Ill.
RON RAHIDE, Marysville, Ohio.
RON SHELDON, Granville, Ohio.
G. SKEANES, Trondhelm, Norway.
SYLVIA TEAO, Albuquerque, N. M.
MARTHA VAZQUEZ, Elida, Ohio.
ROD VETTER, Arlington Heights, Ill.
Sister MARY VIANNEA.
(Transcriber's Note: The above listing was very hard to read on my copy. Please accept my apologies for any mistakes and mispellings of the names. Thank You.)
Daily Herald Chicago Illinois 1989-07-21