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