De Kalb, TX Rick Nelson Dies In Airplane Crash, Dec 1985
SINGER RICK NELSON KILLED IN AIR CRASH.
Dallas Morning News.
De Kalb, Texas -- Singer RICK NELSON and six other people were killed Tuesday evening when their DC-3 airplane crashed in a pasture in rural northeast Texas, apparently after catching fire in midair. The 45-year-old singer and his Stone Canyon Sand were en-route from Guntersville, Ala., to Dallas, where they were to have given a New Year's Eve concert.
Only the pilot and co-pilot of the twin-engine plane survived the crash, which happened about 6:15 p.m. (EDT) near an abandoned air strip in Bowie County south of De Kalb and about 150 miles northeast of Dallas, authorities said.
They were taken by helicopter to St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana in cricital condition with extensive burns.
In addition to NELSON, the dead were identified as:
HELEN BLAIR, the singer's 27 year old fiancee.
PATRICK WOODWARD, 35, the band's bass guitarist, who moved to Dallas recently.
BOBBY NEAL, 38, lead guitarist, of West Memphis, Ark.
RICK INTVELD, drummer, who turned 23 on Monday.
ANDY CHAPIN, pianist, 30.
CLARK RUSSELL, 35, a sound man.
All but WOODWARD and NEAL were from Los Angeles.
Late Tuesday night, the bodies of the victims remained in the charred rubble of the fuselage. They could not be recovered because of inThe [sic] remains of the victims were piled at the front of the fuselage, leading authorities to speculate they were trying to get out of the plane.
"All the bodies are there at the front of the plane. Apparently, they were trying to escape the fire," said De Kalb firefighter LEWIS GLOVER one of the first on the scene.
The survivors were identified as pilot BRAD RANK, 34, who suffered second and third degree burnes over 10 percent of his body; and co-pilot KENNETH FERGUSON, 40, who was severely burned on 40 percent of his body. FERGUSON, who also was a stage hand for NELSON'S band, was transferred late Tuesday from St. Michael to the burn unit at the University of Arkansas medical center in Little Rock.
ARMOND EDWARDS, an investigator from the Fort Worth office of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the pilot of the DC-3 reported smoke in the cockpit of the aircraft shortly after 5 p.m. and requested radar directions to the nearest airports.
"Shortly thereafter, he reported that he was not able to make it to those airports and was going to attempt an off-airport (emergency) landing," EDWARDS said.
"He then disappeared from the radar screens."
EDWARDS said another board investigator, TOMMY McFALL, was dispatched from Fort Worth to the crash scene. A preliminary report was not expected until today at the earliest, EDWARDS said.
RANK, the pilot, told an emergency room physician at St. Michael that a fire broke out in the passengers' cabin of the aircraft, said hospital administrator TOM BYRNE. The pilot furnished no further details, BYRNE said.
BOB ALLISON, a helicopter rescue pilot dispatched from the hospital, said he arrived at the crash scene at about 5:30 p.m CST.
"All I saw was a ball of fire," ALLISON said. "I couldn't make out anything but a fiery mass."
He said the wreckage was in a cow pasture less than two miles from a landing strip used by crop dusting planes.
NELSON, a teen idol when he starred in the 1950s television series, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," had departed with his entourage about noon Tuesday from Guntersville, Ala., where the band had played at P.J.'s Alley, a local club. They were to land at Love Field in Dallas and perform a New Year's Eve concert at the Park Suite Hotel.
Shortly after 7 p.m. CST, employees of the Park Suite announced to the audience gathered for the concert that NELSON had been killed.
NELSON, whose hit songs included "Garden Party" and "Hello Mary Lou," had played with his band in Guntersville on Saturday night and Monday night. The owner of P. J.'s Alley, PAT UPTON, said NELSON stopped in Guntersville as a favor to him because they had been friends and he had once played in NELSON'S band.
UPTON said NELSON had toured almost continuously in the past several years. He had recently returned from a European tour, UPTON said.
In 1952, NELSON was the 11-year-old kid with the crewcut and the smart mouth on ABC's "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." From that beginning until the show's run ended in 1966, RICKY never stopped stealing scenes. He was the "Fonzie" of the NELSON family, the kid whose trademark line, "I don't mess around, boy," made the laugh-track roar during the show's early years.
The rest of RICKY'S real-life family -- father Ozzie, morther HARRIET and especially older brother DAVID -- were warm, comfy and often beside the point. HARRIET once joked, "It'll be a wonder if DAVID doesn't murder RICKY in his bed some night."
Although it lasted for 14 seasons, "Ozzie and Harriet" never made the annual list of television's 25 most popular series. Other homey comedies of the period -- "Father Knows Best," "The Danny Thomas Show," "My Three Sons" and "The Donna Reed Show" -- had higher Nielsen ratings, but all were about make-believe families brought together by Hollywood casting agents.
Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1986-01-01
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!