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Natchitoches, LA Jim Croce and others Die in Plane Crash, Sept 1973

Jim Croce, photo from wikipedia.org Jim Croce Album Cover from wikipedia.org Jim Croce Plane Crash, submitted by Stu Beitler

Singer Dies In Plane Crash

NATCHITOCHES, La., (UPI) - Investigators Friday said they found marijuana in the wreckage of the plane crash that killed singer JIM CROCE and five other persons, but a sheriff admitted the drug probably was not involved in the accident.
"A lid (ounce) is all. There was some on two different ones," said Sheriff SAM JAMES. "I don't think that had anything to do with the plane crash. He (the pilot) just didn't get enough altitude."
The sheriff said the pilot's body was not carrying any drugs, but JAMES ordered an autopsy.
The music industry expressed shock and sorrow at CROCE'S loss just as it had over the premature deaths of Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jim Morrison.
"For the music and the people who had seen JIMMY he was only beginning to scratch the surface of what I think would have been a truly big career," said Tommy West, a CROCE producer in New York.
"I wouldn't call him a super star because that has overtones of rock things and it went more beyond that. I think JIMMY could have been a Will Rogers or a white Bill Cosby."
"He didn't like the music business, he liked music."
CROCE, 30, and his group, had performed a concert Thursday night at Northwestern Louisiana State College, and were leaving for a Friday appearance at Austin College in Sherman, Tex.
CROCE'S biggest hits had been "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Operator" and "Don't Mess Around With Jim" which earned him a gold album.
"They were leaving the airport and got possibly 250 yards south of the runway, 30 feet in the air, and hit this tree," Sheriff James said. "For some reason they didn't gain altitude fast enough."
Investigators said the tree, a large pecan, was the only tree for hundreds of yards.
"It flipped, landed upright and was turned completely around," said James of the twin-engined craft.
The pilot, ROBERT N. ELLIOTT, 57, of Dallas, was thrown from the wreckage. The other victims were found in the plane.
Also killed were GEORGE STEVENS, 36, Inglewood, Calif., a comedian; KENNETH D. CORTOSE, 28, Chicago, CROCE'S manager and booking agent; MAURICE T. MUEHLEISEN, 24, Trenton, N. J., a musician; and DENNIS RAST, 30, Chicago.

The Morning Herald Hagerstown Maryland 1973-09-22

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Coverage

I was 20 when Jim died and I agree the coverage regarding the pot found was disgraceful. I never found any other details. Was anyone still alive when help got there? I was very thankful my girlfriend got us tickets to see him live in Springfield, MO in late 72.

Pic from final concert

I have found one but do not see where I can post it on this site.

theron's remarks.

simply bravo. well said.

Yes you are correct. I work

Yes you are correct. I work for the NTSB region 10 office. The pilot had a heart condition. He had ran a mini marathon that fateful day. He had coronary heart disease. As soon as the aircraft lifted off, the pilot suffered a massive heart attack which led to the crash. Jim Croce was a gifted musician & song writer.

Natchitoches plane crash

I have for manY years tried to learn all i can about the plane crash that took the lives of jim croce, maury muehleisen and four other men. Many rumors and speculations still exist today.I Do however believe there may still be a few alive that know the facts.WHile it certainally cant bring them back it could bring
unanswered facts to these mens families.will anyone stand up for the truth and have enough integrity to come forward? Almost 40 years later i believe its overdue!

Jim Croce and Maury

Jim Croce and Maury muehleisens death in natchitoches la was and still is suspicious. many that were there that night are now passed away too.I have read many rumors but until someone comes forward it will remain a mystery. 39 years later and we still mourn the death of these men.it is still possible even now for the truth to come out. Time will tell!

I was there that night and

I was there that night and the weather was perfect. I heard also that fire trucks and police were at the airport. I do remember the concert ended abruptly.

Pilot

I keep hearing that weed had no factor, duh! Jim was not flying the plane. Sounds like the captain may have been on the drug, due to the delayed action(The wow factor) and not getting enough altitude. How was the weather that day does any one know?

Croce last concert

I was there in 1973 and I would e alail myself for an interview to an interested researcher.

Croce's accidental death?

The suspicious circumstances leading to the plane crash are questionable at best. A pilot with a heart condition running three miles to the airport, and then attempting a downwind takeoff Is very unusual.

It was rumored that Jim Croce’s pilot, Elliot thought their motel was under surveillance. The theory was that: as an experienced 57 year old pilot; he knew that interstate transportation of drugs carries severe penalty and attempted to made a downwind takeoff to elude police.

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article | by Dr. Radut