Clipped From Redlands Daily Facts
Lands on golf course Plane loses engine on takeoff, crash kills 3 LOS ANGELES (UPI? — A DC8 airliner blew an engine on takeoff, then flew low in the rain seven miles over populated residential areas and crash landed on a golf course in the San Fernando Valley, killing three crewmen. Three other crew members survived the crash Sunday with minor injuries, but 10 firemen were burned in a flash fire that erupted as they'tried to pry the victims, possibly dead already, out of the crushed cockpit. The sudden whoosh of flames momentarily trapped nearly two dozen firemen, and several of them scrambled off the plane wreckage with their clothing aflame. Other firemen grabbed those who were burning, threw them down in the rain-soaked mud and beat out the flames. The death and injury toll might have been much higher, but the four-engine plane had not yet picked up its load of passengers for a charter flight to Las Vegas and the municipal golf course was closed because of the weekend rain. Golf starter Gene McVey, 55, was at the Woodley Municipal Course/ and saw the crippled plane descend on the course, shear the tops of trees, bounce several hundred yards across the grass, smash through a small building and then ram the trailer with McVey inside. "It touched down lightly," he said. "Then I saw our starter's shack completely disintegrate and I dove for the floor." He survived with minor cuts and scratches and ran to the side of the plane and kicked open a hatch, helping two stewardesses and a young steward trainee get out. "They were asking about the people in the front of the plane, in the cockpit," he said. "But it was crushed, all caved in. There was just no way to get in." Several firemen packing relief supplies for Guatemalan earthquake victims at a nearby station reached the scene quickly and sprayed foam around the cockpit. They began cutting into the top of the fuselage with a portable rotary saw when the flames suddenly erupted. Trapped in the cockpit and killed were pilot James Robert Seccombe, 38, of Glendale; copilot Jack Finger, 55, of Carpinteria; and flight engineer Arthur Michael Bankers, 53, of Torrance. Fireman Tom Schmit, 27, was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition with burns on his face and foot, and Capt. Larry Park, 34, and Raymond Walker, 31, were hospitalized with serious burns. Four other firemen were hospitalized with less serious burns and three more were treated and released. Stewardesses Susan Masters, 25, of West Los Angeles and Jan Butte, 24, of Burbank and steward trainee Guy De Meo, 16, of Burbank were also treated for minor injuries and released. The plane, owned by the Mercer Aviation charter service, had taken off from HoUywood- Burbank Airport for Ontario Airport, 40 miles to the east, to pick up passengers for the flight to Las Vegas. Debris from the port engine littered the Hollywood-Bur bank runway, preventing a landing there, and forced Seccombe to head for Van Nuys Airport 10 miles to the west. He was three miles short when he tried the golf course crash-landing, apparently to avoid crashing in a residential area. The plane's wheels flew off as it touched down, and the landing gear gouged a 1,000 foot- rut in the grass. Witnesses said the plane probably would have made a safe stop if the pilot had managed to avoid the two structures.