Sacramento, CA Jet Crashes Into Parlor, Sep 1972
HORROR OF PLANE CRASH DESCRIBED.
Sacramento (AP) -- "It took one wall where the 17 kids were and just pushed it," one witness gasped after a burning plane slashed into an ice cream parlor jammed with children and their parents, killing 22 persons.
Authorities said one entire family of five died in the crash Sunday along with 12 children. Twenty-six others -- mostly children -- were injured when the privately owned F86 jet catapulted into the ice cream parlor from Sacramentl's Executive Airport after participating in an air show. The plane had been converted to civilian use.
Witnesses said the plane appeared to lose power in the takeoff. It crashed on an old levee barrier at the end of the runway and hurtled across a four-lane highway.
The craft burst into flames about the time it hit three autos parked by the front entrance to the ice cream parlor. Two of the autos were rammed with the burning plane through the front of the building.
Twenty of the dead were tentatively identified as customers in the store. Two others had been seated in one of the autos crushed by the jet.
CHRISTI KIEHN, 12, of Stockton, Calif., was in FARRELL'S with her parents, four brothers and sisters and two neighbor children -- twin 3 1/2 year olds, KERRI and KRISTI FRANCIS.
She grabbed KERRI, crawled over two tables and pushed her into the arms of a man standing by a window. "Then I climbed out myself through a little bitty hole," she said.
Coroner GEORGE NIELSEN said some identifications might be delayed because the finger-prints of children usually aren't on file.
He said he had few calls from parents, possibly because some of the parents were among the hospitalized.
The pilot was identified as RICHARD BINGHAM, 36, of Novato, Calif., general manager of Spectrum Air, a corporation controlled by WILLIAM PENN PATRICK, a prominent cosmetics manufacturer.
BINGHAM was listed in satisfactory condition with fractures at Sacramento Medical Center.
A witness said a man with a pair of wire cutters ran to the blue and gold jet -- risking the flames -- and cut the pilot loose.
The witness told newsmen the pilot was crying and saying over and over again, "I'm sorry!! I'm sorry!!"
All of Sacramento's publicly and privately owned ambulances were called to the scene as rescue workers began dragging bodies from the flaming building.
A makeshift coroner's offce was set up in the parking lot beside the building.
Heat from the crash charred paint on parked automobiles 60 feet away. The impact knocked over mannequins in windows at the other end of the block.
Witnesses gave contradictory accounts of when the fire started, but several said that the wings -- which contain the fuel tanks -- were severed from the rest of the craft as it roared toward the ice cream parlor.
There was no immediate comment from the National Transportation Safety Board, which sent investigators to the scene.
Store manager DICK KOSSAC said every table was filled at the time of the crash.
All of the other stores in the plush shopping center were closed or had just one or two persons each inside.
Executive Airport is surrounded by densely developed residential and business areas. It is located about four miles south of the State Capitol building and downtown Sacramento.
The airport was used by scheduled airlines until a new airport opened 15 miles north of Sacramento three years ago.
Flames swept through a front dining area of the store. The plane smashed a partition to a second serving area, but was slowed by the wall. The fire scorched walls in that section, but did not do as much damage.
Coroner NIELSEN said some of the victims were burned but many others were crushed or cut.
Hundreds gathered around the shopping center -- held back about 100 feet by police lines -- as rescuers pulled debris and bodies out of the store.
The operation continued for hours. The covered bodies -- many of them small figures -- were put in ambulances and quickly moved from the scene. Burned toys, chairs and other objects were piled on two sides of the building.
Parts of the aircraft were separated from the wreckage by investigators and hauled away. A heavy duty tow truck finally pulled the yellow and blue body of the plane from the store, wrenching a big chunk of the wall out with it.
Firemen cleared debris from a crumpled auto under the plane and found the last two bodies.
FARRELL'S was a favorite spot for neighborhood children. A visit there was a special treat. Again and again, comments were heard in the crowd when each family last was in the store: "Just a couple days ago." "Just last week. We sat in that very chair."
A store specialty was birthday parties for younger children with paper hats, favors, candy, ice cream and elaborately served "party surprises."
San Mateo Times California 1972-09-25
Listing of the Casualties.
KRISTIN "KRISTI" DAWN FRANCIS.
ELAINE JUNE JUGUM.
NANCY TERESA KEYS.
SALLY ANN KEYS.
BRANDON WARREN KRIER.
JENNIFER ANN KRIER.
GREGORY GENE MARTIN.
JEANENE LOUISE MARTIN.
SHAWN ANTHONY MARTIN.
GARY WAYNE NASH.
JEFFREY ALLEN NASH.
NANCY ANN RODRIGUEZ.
JOAN SOUTHWICK BACCI.
BILLIE GERTRUDE IRWIN.
LOUIS "BUD" JUGUM.
SANDRA ANN CREASEY KRIER.
GENE WILSON LaVINE.
MARGARET MAY LaVINE.
ANTHONY LLOYD MARTIN.