Fort Lauderdale News from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 31, 1972 · Page 18
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Fort Lauderdale News from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · Page 18

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 31, 1972
Page 18
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18A Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel, Sundav, December 31, 1972 Survivors Can't Believe They Made It Alive By BRADLEY JEFFRIES and JIM GUIER Staff Writer MIAMI A New Yorker who survived the crash of an Eastern Air Lines superjet in the Everglades late Friday was asked by a reporter how he got out of the plane alive. He looked at the interviewer with incredulity. "Get out of WHAT?" the traveler retorted. The wreckage of the Lockheed L-1011, strewn over a 200-yard area in the murky Everglades sawgrass 18 miles west of the Miami International Airport, bore little resemblance to a jet airliner. Almost hidden in the 12-foot sawgrass was a portion of the tail section. A piece of fuselage rested a short distance away and half of the cockpit was embedded in the muck at the end of a deep gouge in the earth at the edge of the destruction. NOSE CONE POINTED SKYWARD The airliner's broken nose cone, with its black tip staring into the sky like a sightless giant eye, added to the hideousness of the scene. Throughout were scattered fragments of the disintegrated r jJ I ; v-; w ' , ' , -1 "f - -'i -. ft EX-ASTRONAUT FRANK BORMAN . . . now EAL exec, he aided rescue Borman Praises Survivors' Calm Tht AuocUltd Presi MIAMI Former astronaut Frank Borman, an Eastern Air Lines vice president, says the survivors he saw at the scene of a plane crash here were exception-, ally calm. " ' Borman flew to the Everglades swamp here where the Eastern plane crashed shortly before midnight Friday and said he was impressed with the courage of the surviving passengers. - - "There are quite a few dead people out there," said Borman, whose clothing was wet and covered in muck. "The airplane's pretty badly broken up." He said the plane crashed in knee-deep water and that most of it was gone. "The tail section is there," Borman added, "but the rest is broken up." Borman said rescue helicopters were ferrying up to 10 people at a time out of the area. He said rescue crews were trying "to get to people who are still trapped inside. All of the passengers appear to have been strapped in when it crashed." Borman said that as he was trying to help a badly injured man he looked up and "saw a woman trapped in her seat. She asked if we could help her down and she had two small boys with her, both toddlers. Miraculously they were all okay. I carried the boys to a helicopter and she walked on her own." Stewardess Rallied Victims With Carols Tht AuocltM Prut MIAMI A young stewardess injured in the crash of an Eastern Air Lines jet rallied other survivors early today by singing Christmas carols as they waited, knee-deep in water in the swampy Everglades, for help to arrive. The huge Lockheed L1011 TriStar plunged into the Everglades shortly before midnight Friday while preparing to land at Miami International Airport after a flight from Kennedy airport in New York. Martin Siminerio, 22, of Long Island, N.Y. said stewardess Pat Georgia of Miami led other survivors in singing Christmas carols until the first rescue helicopter arrived, about 30 minutes after the crash. "It was nice," Siminerio said. "People controlled themselves very well. I've seen movies about this sort of thing, but it was nothing like this." Miss Georgia and Siminerio vere among about 20 survivors flown by rescue heli AP Wirwhoto copters to Palmetto General Hospital in Miami. Others were taken to Baptist and Mercy hospitals. Hospital officials said the stewardess was injured in the crash but gave no details of her condition. After the crash, Siminerio said, there were at least 18 to 20 persons standing inside the plane. Witness Gives Account Of Nightmare In (Continued from Page 1A) center engine protruding, on its side in the mud, a collapsed section of fuselage, the cockpit with its top sheared off and two of the flight officers dead inside. - The rest is aluminum tinsel and bodies and human belongings, showered over a quarter-mile patch. The plane came down about fuselage, few larger than a dining table or desk top. An occasional pair of tires from the aircraft's landing gear were visible through the weeds and hip-deep murky water. First and economy class seats were scattered like so many straws in the wind. A bright yellow emergency safety chute, still rolled up and unused, and a bright orange life raft floated on the coffee-colored swamp waters, contrasting with the olive drab of the sawgrass. FUNERAL SILENCE PREVAILED Overall, a funeral silence hovered, broken on occasion by the deafening roar of an airboat taking searchers from Levee 67 200 yards away to their grim employ in the hunt for bodies. "The poor people struck it rich. They were the lucky ones," helicopter pilot Paul Wood said yesterday after the crash.- Wood, owner of a private helicopter service, was one of the pilots who flew to the swamp crash site to help rescue some 93 persons who survived the crash. Officials said 78 may have died. "The tail section, most of the fuselage, was sticking up in the air," Wood said. "That's where the poor people ride, the ones who can't afford to go first class. And they were probably the ones who got out alive." 80 (Continued from Page 1A) Georgia in the singing of Christmas carols. Of the 89 known dead, four were crew members, including the captain, Robert A. Loft of Plantation, who died in the cockpit of the aircraft - while a rescuer was trying to free him. Loft's first officer, A. J. Stockstill, also was killed in the crash, as were two of the jet's 10 stewardesses, Pat Ghyssels and Stefanie Stanich whose body has not yet been recovered. All three were from Miami. OFFICER 'CRITICAL' The only crew member in Fatality List Easttrn Airlines released the lollowlm list lest nifht of passengers found deed or presumed dead as result of Friday nl9ht' crash of the) Miemi-bound Trislar leti A?ale, Miss B. Albert, Mr. R. Albert Mrs. Ames, rs. M. Bearman, Mr, L. Bearman, Mrs. Becker, Mr. J. Becker, Mrs. Bloodgood, Mr. B. -. Bloodgood, Mrs, Carfliii, Mr. t. Carlliil, Mrs. Carmichael, Mr. C. Carrasquillo, Mr. J. Carrasquillo, Mrs. P. Cassadova, Donald Chester, Miss Maureen Chestnut, Mrs. Helen Child!, Mrs. R, Chowdhury, Dr. A, Cilles, Mr. " Cilles, Mrs Cohen, Mrs, Y. Cresoo, Silvio Dedik, Miss J. Delgado, Mre. I. Desalaiar, Miss Deulch, Miss Susan Ellenbira, i. Escobar, S. Eskamanci, Mr, 1. Fisher, Mr. S. Foye, Mrs. 0. Garde, Mr. H. Garcia, Pedro Gatti, $. Goldfluss, Mr. B. Gonzales, J. Gonzales, Mlsi M. Gordon, (Mr. D. Greenblatt, Dim - - Greenweld, Miss A. Ghyssels, Miss Patricia Hernandez, Misi C. Hoffman, Mrs. inlantino, Mri. R. Jackson, Mrs. B. Jackter, Miss C. Jaramlllo, Mr, B. -Jaye, Mr. R. Jorge, Mrs, C. Junco. Mr. Junes, Mrs. Kamintr, Mrt. M, And Infant , karpen, Mr. S. Karpen, Mrs. Koshman, Mr. R. Katz, Miss M. Kucnanbrod, Mr. C. Leshay, Mr. Loft, Mr. Robert A, Lopano, Mr,. Lorenzo, J. Luna, Suzanni Lustii, Mrs. H. McAvov, Mrs. Mancuso, Mrs. Mancuso, Mr. B, Mazzono, Mr. K. Mazzone, Mrs. Messina, Mr. R, Machmas, Mr. A. Nunez, Mr, Hendry Palma, N. Palma, R. Prager, Mr. $. Pollack, Mrs. E. Pente, Me. T. Ponte, Mrs. Rego, Mr. M, Romero, R. Rubin, Mr. P. Rubin, Mrs. Saal, Mrs. R. Schacketford, Mrs. R. Schenk, Klaus Schenker, E. Schullerl, Mr. R Stanich, Miss Stephanie Stark, Mr. A. Stockstill, Mr. A.J. Worst Air Crash Killed 176 United Press International The worst air disaster in history: Soviet Aeroflot jetliner carrying 176 passengers and crew crashed Oct. 13, 1972, killing all aboard, near Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. The worst previous air accident in history: July 30, 1971, a Japanese jet fighter 18 miles northwest of the airport and 200 yards from the dike. Rescuers reached the scene by 'copters and airboats and the rocky, one-lane road along the levee that stretches 20 miles through the wasteland, connecting two main highways bordering it. The Coast Guard choppers that were first on the scene sent men jumping into the knee-deep water. Some floun In Everglades Jet Disaster Live, But 97 Feared Dead the cockpit to survive the crash was the second officer, . Flight Engineer D. L. Repo, Miami, who was hospitalized in critical condition. The Airline Pilots Association stationed two members at his bedside to prevent newsmen from talking to him. It was not immediately knowtf if any of the passen gers were from Broward or Palm Beach counties, but it is believed most were residents of the New York area where the flight originated. Full identifications, including residences, are "to be released later by the Dade Medical examiner. Among the surviving stewardesses was Trudy Smith Testa, Mlsi J. Yandolino, J. Yellin, Mr. R. Yellin, Mrs. Zollo, Rose Survivors MIAMI Eastern Air Lines lest night released the following alphabetical list of to survivors of tht Trislar crashi Albury, May Bancroft, Luis Rierl, Vierina Bolure, Rigobuto Bolufe, Carl Burt, Alexander - Casado, Gus Casado, Christina Casado, Xeomira . Connell, Ann Connell, Barry Corretzer, Barulio ' Diegeriez, Merisel Donato, Angelo Eskow, Jerry Fisher, Silvia Franklin, Miss P. Presko, Herbert Presko, Molly Garcia, Julia Garcia, Alice Gaudiello, Catherine Gaudiello, George Georgia, Patricia Classman, Kenneth Goldlluss, Mrs. B Hamilton, Andrenna Hoffman, Milton Infantino, Ronald Junco, Angel Miiuel (Infant) Kaplan, David Kupice, Helen Kent, Franklin Kent, Mrs. Franklin Larrsen, Jennifer Larusso, Jessia Lsurl, James Levlne, Leonia Leva, Cornelia Mazur, Joseph Mazur, Rose McAvoy, Thomas Meile, Luis Michali, Richard Morris, Al Munguzii, Jenlce Mulcahy, T. J. Okanawskl, Allen Ochoe, Christina Pares, Arlstidet Pares, Martha Pares, Oneida Polancs, Carlos Polanco, Lucino Pragluskl. Richard Poo sod, Joseph Raoosa, Beverly Raglalia, Evelyn Rogo, Maria Peoo, D. L. Rlette, Franchise Rothmburg, Thomas Remkus, Glen Ruiz, Mercedes Silverman, Bunny Simmeno, Martin Soberon, Millie Solomon, Jerrald Sumekins, Lorry Smith, Donna Smith, Trudy Taylor, Marilyn Terry, Warren Tibbs, Sue Transue, Sharon Ulrlch, Edward Warnock, Dorothy Walker, Jessa Weiss, Alan Zellln, Lorenzo and an All Nipon Airways 727 jet collided near Morioka in the Japanese Alps 162 dead. The worst domestic crash involving a single plane occurred on March 1, 1962, when an American Airlines Boeing 707 jet crashed shortly after takeoff from New York City killing 95 persons. dered into potholes up to their armpits. The machines couldn't land, for the muck would trap their wheels. Working by flashlight and the beams of hovering helicopters the rescue teams sloshed through the wreckage, stunned to find bodies that moved and groaned, trapped in the wreckage of the plane and thrown out into the black wetness. The Coast Guards ' Wood said the giant aircraft broke apart behind the wings and "the front section was probably six car lengths away from the back." Helicopters bearing newsmen made passes over the scene, but were refused permission to land, even briefly, in the restricted area. There were no spokesmen at the scene, and among the yellow-helmeted searchers there was little apparent talking. IN SNAKE-INFESTED WATERS A Florida Highway Patrol sergeant who kept watch over the search operations from the narrow levee said by mid-morning yesterday, the grim hunt for the dozens of bodies In the snake-infested water had only gotten under way. Piles of stretchers and gray blankets with which to cover the dead were placed at the side of the roadway next to ambulances. The searchers themselves fanned out through the wreckage, poking under each piece and in the weeds and waters with rolled-up yellow stretchers, ever wary of snakes. Because of the remoteness of the location, eight miles north of the Tamiami Trail, and the scattered destruction, rescuers early yesterday concerned themselves with only the living, leaving the dead where they were. of Davie, who was treated for a cut toe and bruises sustained in the crash. The high survival rate, which surprised rescuers at the scene and federal aviation authorities was called "almost incredible" by John H. Reed, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). TERRAIN CITED Reed, who visited the crash site, said he believed the "nature of the terrain, the water in the Everglades environment" cushioned the impact when the Lockheed TriStar crashed. The federal official said the Eastern aircraft apparently - ' . r---r." l. .... Up A V & 1 Vr"'r Pork'' $f P O. '- AIKPOKT I z TV.""4 ',a ' ' I 1 MIAMI ISjjH & 'm ,ofl,'omi ,,a'1 b"'4-?L "lu' ! v-i ) A S7 ., v FLORIDA J' i ) J C( 3, Kv ;,ili J"' J I BiscoynoV ft. ' Miles " SITE WHERE EASTERN'S JUMBO JET WENT DOWN . . . crash occurred 17 miles northwest of Miami International Airport Tragedy Ends Honeymoon. Leaves Groom A Widower (Continued from Page 1A) names," a harried public relations spokesman asked. "Bloody, kerosene-soaked clothes were cut off the victims before we could take them into the emergency room we just couldn't take chances," he said. The clothes, mixed with mud and sawgrass from the Everglades, were stuffed into plastic bags to wait to be claimed by relatives if they wanted them. The staffs of half a dozen Miami area hospitals were mobilized to treat the survivors. ; The Mercy Hospital staff approximately 300 strong gathered hours before dawn, ready for battle with white coats lined up like sentries. At Hialeah hospital, police and rescue workers cordoned off 79th St. for the huge Coast Guard helicopters to land. Hospital staffs, some of them in slippers and tee-shirts, moved right into parking lots beside the huge chop men helped by policemen and game wardens and 'Glades hunters who came in their airboats to the scene, hoisted the injured through the doors of whirlybirds hanging just off the deck. They put others on the airboats and the roaring airplane engines of the flat-bottomed craft sped with spurts of blue flame along a pathway beaten down to the dike, the way lit was "flown gently into the ground," and said the principle reason SO persons survived the crash was that there was no fire. None of the survivors died after being rescued. Several passengers received only minor injuries. Reed, who flew to Miami yesterday to head a 10-man investigation team from the NTSB, said passengers apparently had not been given advance warning of the crash. He said the aircraft's flight recorder containing a record of the conversation between the Miami tower and the plane during the last 30 minute? before the crash had been sent to Washington for analysis. pers to treat survivors as quickly as possible. Phones rang incessantly throughout the day. "Are you sure you don't have just one unidentified person?" was the question. "What can we tell them, except to try another hospital, but we're really told all the survivors are out, and after so many hours ... and yet," said one nurse. "How can we tell them to give up hope?" For all the bloody faces, there were also some smiles of relief. "We waited and waited at the airport for that plane. Then we got word, and they told us to come here," Mickey Destefano of New York said. Destefano, on a three-week Miami vacation himself, had gone to meet his cousin Alan Oknowsky of Bayside, Queens, who was seriously hurt. Inside Mercy Hospital, Oknowsky was undergoing surgery, but the doctors said he would pull through. Those who could talk, like by lights the drivers wore on their heads, miner fashion. The injured came to the levee wrapped in green and blue blankets, some still, others with limbs jerking in pain. A lady moaned and wept shrilly. Another woman clung . desperately with blue-white hands to the strut of the airboat as it sped her across the swamp. Ambulance attendants in The earliest reports of the crash were not received until after midnight, well after the Eastern jet disappeared from view on the Miami Air Traffic Control radar. It was not until early morning that the airline officially reported fatalities were involved in the crash. Curiosty seekers, newsmen and would-be rescuers who tried to visit the crash site during the early morning hours were blocked by Dade County police at Chrome Avenue. Only police, rescue officials and Everglades residents with airboats were allowed beyond the roadblock. NEWSMEN PERMITTED TO PASS When the first newsmen were permitted to pass, they were halted at the entrance to the levee, but in the unclouded night were able to watch as helicopters, bearing searchlights, hovered over the wreckage of the jet eight miles away. Rescuers at first had planned to use a tiny Miccosukee Indian school nine miles west of the crash site to treat survivors, but abandoned the plan because of the distance and logistical problems. The Indian tribal council objected to the school's use as a temporary morgue, citing religious reasons. Before dawn, Doug Taggerty, public information officers for the Dade Department of Public Safety, told newsmen assembled at the command post on the levee that 60 persons had been involved in the nighttime rescue operation. The recorder also contains information on the plane's altitude, speed and condition during the final minutes. A veteran Eastern pilot instructor said at the point of crash, Flight 401s speed normally would have been 22S miles an hour at an altitude of 1,500 feet. ATTEMPTED LANDING The aircraft attempted one landing at the Miami airport, then pulled away when a nose gear warning light indicated a malfunction. It circled back west over the Everglades and apparently was beginning to circle for another approach when it went down. Reed said the aircraft, V Michael Laurie, 32, of New York, told of their escape into the Everglades night. "I saw the city lights fade away and then, bang! The plane broke . . . I, know damn well that seat belt saved me. I'm alive and I never felt better." Eastern Airlines' Lou Phillips took the brunt of the coordination burden for 13 survivors at Mercy. When he fielded a call from a Red Cross worker he gasped,-"Thank God," and then told survivor Martha Perez that her daughter was also safe at another hospital. But elation was paralleled by sorrow. When UPI's Carlos Penabaz went to Parkway General Hospital to see a friend, Mrs. Julia Garcia, who survived with her daughter Alicia, there was still no word about her husband Pedro. All that one other survivor could tell Penabaz was that he heard a man struggle cut of the wreckage and scream, "Julia! Alicia!" and crumple unconscious as rescuers carried him away. white coveralls clambered down the steep bank to bring up the stretchers. They reached out with free hands to be helped by other hands reaching out. A woman, her clothes torn and filthy wet, walked to an ambulance and was put into the front seat because the rear was full. Her head lolled forward and she sat in a shocked stupor until the vehi- whose crew reported the nose gear problem cleared, vanished from the control tower radar at 11:42 p.m., which ' ' Reed said would have placed it at about 300 feet or 1,700 feet below the altitude it was supposed to be flying at that point. He said the NTSB would conduct a public hearing in the Miami area, probably within four to six weeks, after documentation of investigators' reports and physical evidence is examined. Some of the physicians attending the injured reported treating passengers with burns, Reed said while there was no fire in the wreckage, there was an explosion confirmed by witnesses after the impact. 4 MONTHS OLD EAL officials said the aircraft, one of 12 in service by the airline, was only four months old, but had been flown an estimated 1,000 hours of passenger service since Aug. 21. The L-1011 TriStar is used exclusively on EAL's New York to Miami and San Juan flights, and are not flown anywhere else in the extensive system, The crash was EAL's first fatality in seven years, and it was the first major crash of a "jumbo" jetliner in the nation. None of the other EAL Tri-Stars or other similar aircraft flown by other airlines will be grounded as a result of the crash, Reed said, adding, "There is no indication there was any serious problem with the aircraft." Reed said his investigators reported the plane was flying southwest, away from the Miami airport, and was making a slight left turn when it flew into the ground. He said the altimeters are to be examined by NTSB experts to determine if they had malfunctioned. Similarly, a representative of Rolls Royce, manufacturer of the jet's engines, is expected to go to the crash scene today to examine the three engines. The wreckage Is eventually to be moved from the swamp to the Goodyear Blimp Hangar in Miami where aviation experts will attempt to reconstruct it. SINKHOLES When the search for the rein a i n i n g bodies resumes today, rescuers will be hampered primarily by the six-foot sawgrass and the water, which masks sinkholes up to six feet deep. Sgt. Jim Sistrunk of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission said many of the bodies were found nude, stripped of their clothing by the impact. Searchers, Sistrunk said, must locate the bodies in the snake-infested terrain, put up markers and photograph each one. Among the searchers early yesterday was former astronaut Frank Borman, now an Eastern vice president. William C. Lane, a Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission officer, said he took a dozen injured passengers to safety in his airboat Glades cle rolled off, making its painstaking way over the pot-holed road nearly 10 miles to the highway, its red light rocking and flashing down the road. And while the search for the living went on, the bodies on the bank of the levee remained forgotten for awhile, lying on the opposite side of the road from the wreckage, looking at the stars. X

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