New York City, NY Jet Crash At La Guardia, Mar 1992
JET'S DEAD STRAPPED IN SEATS.
TWENTY-ONE SURVIVORS WADE TO LAND AND WALK TO THE NEAREST TERMINAL.
New York (AP) -- Battered, freezing disaster crews slogged through snow, slush and river currents today to pull eight more bodies from the wreckage of a USAir jet that crashed into Flushing Bay. At least 26 of 51 people aboard were killed.
"I was floating in the water because those seats float. I opened my eyes but there was no plane over me," one passenger said.
"I was next to it."
The plane was taking off for Cleveland when it veered off a runway at La Guardia Airport and crashed Sunday night during a light snowstorm, skidding into the frigid water bordering the airport.
At least 24 people were injured and one was missing among those aboard USAir Flight 405, said Bill Kress, an airline spokesman.
Survivors swam, walked or crawled to safety.
More than 500 rescuers struggled into the night to remove bodies from the mostly submerged fuselage and continued the effort soon after daybreak.
More than 30 emergency workers were reported injured in the treacherous rescue.
The water was a numbing 38 to 40 degrees and the air about 31 degrees when the plane went down at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
"We did a primary search and saw the pilot strapped in his seat," Fire Department diver Bill Lake said.
"We tried to cut him out but couldn't. We were working against the tide. The real problem was that the plane was upside down and people were still strapped into their seats because it was takeoff."
Twenty-one survivors waded to land and then walked to the nearest terminal, Port Authority police said.
Four survivors crawled onto the nearby Grand Central Parkway, where they flagged down a van for help, said Emergency Medical Service worker Adelaide Connaughten.
Many of the injured suffered burns, cuts and internal injuries and were taken to at least five hospitals.
Lt. John O'Loughlin, the first paramedic on the scene, said victims were on fire, rolling around trying to put the flames out.
Port Authority Police Officer Albert Gachett said a wet and disoriented survivor approached his car.
"He said, 'Help me,' I said I'd help him; it'd be all right. That guy is a soap opera star on 'All My Children,'" Gachett said.
ABC Television confirmed that soap actor RICHARD LAWSON, who plays Lucas Barnes, was among the survivors.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the scene and began an investigation. Safety board officials said they couldn't immediately tell what caused the crash.
Law enforcement officials and witnesses said the jet had just begun to lift off when it slammed back to the ground, veered sharply to the left and crashed over an earthen embankment.
The nose, a wing and an engine snapped off and the rest of the plane skidded in a fireball into the water with its top sheared off.
"It catapulted three or four times before it went into the water," said Patrick Silver, who said he watched the crash from his nearby home.
"It lit up the living room. It was a huge fireball."
The plane, a Fokker 28 Model 4000 with a capacity of 68, was carrying 47 passengers and four crew members, USAir said.
Fokker, a Dutch aircraft manufacturer, dispatched five or six specialists to provide
"routine" technical assistance during the investigation, said company spokesman Bart van Veen.
The crash occurred near the beginning of a storm that dumped five inches of snow in the metropolitan area.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Fred Farrar said of the relatively small plane: "Something happened just about at rotation that caused it to come back down again."
"We don't know yet what happened."
Two "black box" flight recorders were recovered from the wreckage today, said Tom Kelly, the deputy fire commissioner.
Agnes Huff, a USAir regional manager, said the aircraft was in good working order and had been de-iced more than once before it took off.
One survivor -- the woman who described opening her eyes after the crash -- said the pilot told passengers he was de-icing the plane a second time to be safe.
The passenger, a 23-year-old from Solon, Ohio, who agreed to the interview on the condition she be identified only by her first name, Laura, said the plane seemed to be a few feet off the ground when it tilted to the left quickly and hit the ground.
She said she saw a flash of light.
The next thing she knew, she was floating in the water next to the plane.
She suffered minor burns and was hospitalized in stable condition.
The rescue scene at the water's edge, bathed in the light of emergency lamps, was both eerie and tumultuous.
Bodies lay in white body bags. A jet engine was crumpled nearby, snow drifting over its blackened surface.
As the night wore on and the tide rose, still less of the plane remained above water.
A crane hoisted some of the wreckage out of the water today. Divers searched for bodies.
Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1992-03-23
New York (AP) -- Partial list of passengers and crew on USAir Flight 405, which crashed on takeoff at La Guardia Airport. Hometowns provided when known:
NAN BECKWITH, Hudson, Ohio.
WILLIAM BECKWITH, Hudson, Ohio.
A. DAVISON, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
DR. FRANK FORSHEW, 50, Bath Township, Ohio.
DEAN GRAY, Wakeman, Ohio.
SYRES HOLDER, Cleveland, Ohio.
JOSEPH IRVIN, North Olmsted, Ohio.
MARILYN IRVIN, North Olmsted, Ohio.
JANICE KING, flight attendant, 35, Gilbert, S.C.
STEVE LEOPOLD, Cleveland, Ohio.
WALLACE MAJURE, captain, 44, Marietta, Georgia.
NANCY MEHES, Novelty, Ohio.
THOMAS MIKUTA, Cos Cob, Conn.
THORAL MITCHELL, Solon, Ohio.
VIRGINIA MITCHELL, Solon, Ohio.
MICHAEL MOULD, 21, Columbus, Ohio.
JENNIFER PALOCI, Shaker Heights, Ohio.
DAVID PORCELLI, Lyndhurst, Ohio.
KAREN PORCELLI, Lyndhurst, Ohio.
JOHN STANKO, Cleveland, Ohio.
DR. DOUGLAS UMSTEAD, Kent, Ohio.
WILLIAM P. BLAIR, 50, Canton, Ohio.
DR. JAMES A. BLOCK, 51, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
JOAN FORSHEW, Bath Township, Ohio.
KATHRYN GRAY, Wakeman, Ohio.
ROBERT MAIN, JR., Cincinnati, Ohio.
CONNIE MERRILL, Norwalk, Ohio.
TOM MERRILL, Norwalk, Ohio.
DENISE MILLER, Euclid, Ohio.
SID NUDELMAN, University Heights, Ohio.
FRED PAULENICH, Danbury, Conn.
JOHN J. RACHUBA, first officer, Charlotte, N.C.
HELEN ROSS, 54, Gates Mills, Ohio.
RONALD ROSS, 57, Gates Mills, Ohio.
ANN SACKNITZ, San Francisco, California.
KENDRA ST. CHARLES, 39, Akron, Ohio.
BART SIMON, 43, Shaker Heights, Ohio.
ROBERT SPEAR, 24, Fairfield, Conn.
DEBRA TAYLOR, flight attendant, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
LAURA TREGO, 23, Solon, Ohio.