Evansville, IN Military Plane Crashes Into Restaurant, Feb 1992

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Evansville Ind 1992-02-07 2.jpg Evansville IND 1992-02-07.jpg

EVANSVILLE DEATH TOLL REACHES 16.

NINETEEN WERE INJURED WHEN PLANE CRASHED INTO HOTEL AND RESTAURANT; ALL CREW MEMBERS ON BOARD DIED.

Evansville, Ind. (AP) -- The breakfast crowd had about gone and Michael Kelley was preparing for the lunch crowd when a military transport airplane crushed into a corner of JoJo's restaurant and smothered it in flames.
Kelley was in the kitchen of the restaurant shortly before 10 a.m. CST Thursday when the Lockheed C-130 four-engine turboprop rammed it and the adjacent Drury Inn motel, killing 16 people and injuring at least 19 others.
"The wall and ceiling, they just came in on us and the grill came out toward me and knocked me down. I got up and called back, 'Everybody get out,'" said Kelley, a cook at JoJo's.
"The whole world was on fire. We tried to go back to get the other two, but it was too hot. There was so much fire," Kelley said between sobs.
Two restaurant workers, nine people in a fourth-floor conference room of the motel and all five crew members on the plane died in the crash during a proficiency training exercise.
Those who died in the hotel were employees of Plumbing and Industrial Supply Co., said Evansville Fire Department investigator Jesse Story.
WILLIAM CAPODAGLI, who survived the crash with serious burns, said he was in the motel delivering a quality-control seminar when he found himself amid an inferno.
"There was this incredible fireball bursting through our window," said CAPODAGLI, who works as consultant for the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. "Where there should have been daylight was a big spinning ball of flame."
CAPODAGLI said his shirt caught fire as he raced from the conference room into a hallway.
"I just thank God for my Cub Scout training. I knewI must be on fire, so I just dropped to the floor and rolled," he said.
He said he reached a balcony and awaited help, knowing that the others in the conference room probably had not survived.
CAPODAGLI suffered burns to his arms and hands and was listed in serious condition at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville.
The Vanderburgh County coroner's office said early today no identifications on the dead were available.
The plane dropped straight down and exploded in a fireball that shot hundreds of feet skyward and sprayed the north wall of the motel with flaming aviation fuel. By dusk, when the fires had died, the wreckage was not recognizable as an aircraft.
The crew was from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Tactical Airlift Wing based in Louisville, Ky.
Lt. Col. David Moremen said an Air Force investigation team from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois had begun examining the mass of melted and twisted steel to determine the cause of the crash. He said it might not be known for several days whether pilot error or mechanical failure caused the crash.
"It's way too early to speculate on anything like that. We're at as great a loss as you are to determine what happened," Moreman said.
Moreman said the 33 or 34 year old airplane had been practicing touch-and-go landings at Evansville Regional Airport about a mile from the crash site.
In such exercises, practiced routinely at airports all over the nation, the lumbering wide bodied planes dip from the skies, touch their wheels briefly on the runway, then throttle up and ascend, said Moreman.
Brig. Gen. Julius Berthold said there was nothing in the crash to indicate that the military's fleet of C-130s is defective.
Moremen said the C-130s are among the safest and easiestto fly in the military. They can remain aloft with only two of their four engines running, he said.
JoJo's manager Dennis Serio said most of the 15-20 people in the restaurant escaped, most without serious injuries. The two who died, he said, were in a corner of the building demolished by the impact.
About one-fourth of the restaurant was destroyed. The four-story hotel was damaged mainly by fire. Only part of the plane's charred rudder was recognizable.
The 24-hour restaurant, part of a chain, and the motel are located on U.S. 41 in this city of 125,000 at the southwestern tip of Indiana.
The C-130 Hercules is a workhorse for the military, a medium-range craft that carries mainly cargo or people on a variety of missions. The four-engine plane normally has a crew of five. It has a wingspan of 132 feet and is 97 feet long.
The plane that crashed was built it 1957 or 1958, but that wasn't especially old for those in the Kentucky Air National Guard, Moremen said.
The pilot-instructor, Maj. RICHARD A. STRANG, 39, of Floyds Knobs, Ind., was
"highly experienced and had impeccable credentials," Moremen said.
STRANG piloted the first C-130 that landed in Panama during the 1989 American invasion, said Maj. Jeffrey Butcher of the 123rd Tactical Airlift Wing.

Logansport Pharos Tribune Indiana 1992-02-07

List of dead, missing from crash.
Evansville, Ind. (AP) -- Here is a list of the people killed or missing in the crash of a military plane Thursday.
Confirmed Dead
Members, 123rd Tactical Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard.
Maj. RICHARD A. STRANG, 39, Floyds Knobs, Ind., assigned pilot.
Capt. WARREN J. KLINGAMAN, 29, Louisville, Ky., co-pilot.
2nd Lt. VINCENT D. YANCAR, 25, Louisville, Ky., co-pilot.
Master Sgt. WILLIAM G. HAWKINS, 41, Crestwood, Ky., loadmaster.
Master Sgt. JOHN M. MEDLEY, 38, Louisville, Ky., flight engineer.
From hotel:
DARREL ARNOLD, 38, Evansville.
CHARLES BERGWITZ, 22, Evansville.
ROBERT HAYES, 45, Evansville.
HARRY TENBARGE, 51, Evansville.
JOHN STALLINGS, JR., 41, Evansville.
THOMAS RUBY, 28, Evansville.
RONALD KEOWN, 33, Evansville.
MATTHEW PRASEK, 28, Evansville.
DAVID HORTON, 29, Evansville.
Missing from restaurant:
MATTHEW PHIPPS, 28, Evansville.
LYNETTE SCOTT, no age available,Evansville.

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