The terrible air disaster stunned the whole Mountain State as the worst on record here.
The Piedmont Airlines twin-engine propjet, groping through thick morning
fog, slammed into the hillside overlooking Coonskin Park. The
shattered airliner bounced and burned off the side of the main runway.
Thirty-two passengers and crew members were killed outright. The
survivors were rushed to Charleston hospitals by a howling stream of
ambulances along with seven others pronounced dead on arrival. About 20
bodies were trapped in the burning plane and had to be pried from the
crumpled wreckage with cranes. Debris, luggage, mail bags and personal
effects were strewn in a grisly 100-yard long path from the edge of the
The airliner hit short and to the right of the main runway. Another 50
yards of altitude and it would have landed on the level, grassy strip
adjoining the 150-yard wide concrete strip. An airport official said
that from the appearance of the bodies, most of the victims died from
the impact and not from the fire.
The plane, a Fairchild-Hiller 227 en route from Cincinnati to Roanoke,
crashed at 8:56 a. m. Piedmont officials said the airliner was making
an instrument approach in the thick fog. Airport tower personnel said
the radio-controlled glide slope, which is normally used in such
landings, was inoperative.
Kanawha Airport manager Calvin Wilson said visibility at the time of the
crash was one mile, above the permissible landing limit.
The plane struck the steep slope to the right of the approach light
bridge at the north end of Runway 23. Shredding debris, it wheeled up
onto the grassy plain about 300 feet past the end of the runway. About a
half-dozen passengers were thrown clear of the wreckage.
Eyewitnesses to the crash said the plane was burning as it skidded to a
halt. Air National Guard fire trucks arrived within minutes and
quenched the blaze, leaving a foam-shrouded hulk of wreckage except for
the plane's tail, which remained intact.
Most of the victims were trapped inside the burning fuselage. The
injured were pulled away from the blaze by passengers of a private plane
waiting at the north end taxiway for the Piedmont flight to land.
Col. Ralph Cowgill of the West Virginia ANG said the plane burned for "less than 15 minutes."
A temporary morgue was quickly established in the cavernous National
Guard hanger less than half-mile from the wreckage. FBI and state
police personnel started the grim business of identification of the
bodies shortly after noon.
Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal
Aviation Administration officials arrived in Charleston late Saturday to
begin probing the cause of the crash. Piedmont Vice President W. G. McGee arrived from the airline's
Winston-Salem, N. C., headquarters Saturday afternoon. He identified
the pilot as Gene Sugg, a 15-year veteran with the airline, and copilot
John F. Messick, both of Winston-Salem. Airline stewardess Anna Pearl,
20, of Walkertown, N. C., also died in the crash. McGee said identification of the other victims "may take a while because
some of the passengers came from points off our lines." The flight
originated at Louisville, Ky., stopped at Cincinnati, and would have
continued on to Roanoke and Norfolk, Va.
The toll in the ghastly Kanawha Airport crash remained at 32 dead and
five injured Saturday night, although three of the injured hovered near
death in Charleston hospitals, and only 2 would survive.
PLANE CRASH TOLL INCLUDES 4 FROM STATE.
Of the dead, four were West Virginians -- and all four were young servicemen coming home on leave.
Marine Pfc. JAMES MICHAEL "MIKE" IZZO, 20, son of Mrs. Ila Williams of
740 1/2 Madison St., Charleston. A Charleston native and Stonewall
Jackson High School graduate, he enlisted in May and was coming home
from Camp Pendleton, Calif., on his first furlough.
Army Pfc. MARK EDWARD DICKINSON, 19, son of Mrs. Freda Dickinson of 1406
Bridge Rd., Charleston. A native of Prenter, Boone County, and a 1967
graduate of Sherman High School at Seth, he was coming home on emergency
leave from Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., to see his mother who is ill in
Charleston Memorial Hospital.
Army enlisted man CHARLES L. DOBSON of Camden-on-Gauley, Webster County,
coming home from San Diego, Calif. He had called an uncle in Webster
County and asked him to pick him up at the Charleston airport so he
might surprise his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arnet Dobson, who didn't know
he was coming home.
Army serviceman DENZIL WARNER of Parkersburg, also coming home on leave.
Among other victims, two of the dead and one of the injured were Preiser
Scientific Co. officials who were flying here for a sales meeting.
NORMAN J. KLEIN, 38, of Louisville, Ky., a Charleston resident from 1953
to 1958 who had become Preiser branch manager in Louisville.
HARRY PHAROW, 32, of Cincinnati, Ohio, Preiser sales manager in Cincinnati.
THOMAS VOIGNIER, 27, of Cincinnati, Preisler purchasing agent in Cincinnati.
KLEIN and PHAROW were killed, and VEIGNIER was badly hurt. The
Charleston sales meeting was canceled when word of the crash was heard.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the dead and injured of the tragic Kanawha Airport airliner crash:
WILLIS C. ANDREWS, 47, of Covington, Ky., an insurance supervisor flying
to Roanoke, Va., for the baptism of his first grandchild.
ROBERT BREWER of Springfield, Tenn., an Army serviceman who boarded at Louisville, Ky.
MRS. EDWIN CHAMBLIN of Cincinnati, who boarded at Cincinnati.
MRS. AL DEER of Louisville, Ky., flying to Newport News, Va.
MRS. CAROL DEER of Louisville, her daughter-in-law.
KIMMIE DEER, six-year-old daughter of MRS. CAROL DEER.
MARK EDWARD DICKINSON, 19, of 1406 Bridge Rd., Charleston, formerly of
Prenter, Boone County, an Army private coming home on leave from Ft.
Leonard Wood, Mo.
CHARLES L. DOBSON of Camden-on-Gauley, Webster County, an Army
serviceman en route home from San Diego, Calif., for a surprise visit to
R. E. DOYLE of Fort Wayne, Ind., who boarded the plane in Cincinnati.
Sister FRANCES ECCLES of Nazareth, Ky., a Catholic nun who boarded at Louisville.
MRS. SHEILA HELLER of Indianola, Ind., who boarded in Cincinnati, bound for Roanoke, Va.
MISS MARY GIBSON of Cincinnati, who was flying to Richmond, Va., to visit a sister.
THOMAS R. GUILLION of Roanoke, Va., an Army serviceman who boarded at Louisville.
JAMES MICHAEL "MIKE" IZZO, 20, of 740 1/2 Madison St., Charleston, a
Marine coming home on his first leave from Camp Pendleton, Calif.
NORMAN J. KLEIN, 38, of Louisville, formerly of Charleston, a Preiser
Scientific Co. official en route to Charleston for a sales meeting.
JOHN F. MESSICK, 34, of Winston-Salem, N. C., copilot of the airliner.
STEVEN W. MINES, an Army serviceman who boarded in Louisville, bound for Roanoke.
FLOYD PATTERSON of CIncinnati, an uncle of MISS GIBSON, who boarded with her.
MISS DIANE LOIS PFIRRMANS, 19, of Cincinnati, who boarded in Cincinnati.
HARRY PHAROW, 32, of Cincinnati, another Preiser official en route to the Charleston sales meeting.
MISS SHARON SEARP of Covington, Ky., who boarded in Cincinnati, bound for Norfolk.
GLENN S. SHEETS, 20, of Salem, Va., an Air Force airman flying home from
Chanute AFB, Ill., to see his parents. He would have been 21 Tuesday.
MISS ANNA P. STEWART, 20, of Winston-Salem, N. C., stewardess on the airliner.
GENE A SUGG of Winston-Salem, pilot of the airliner.
MISS BARBARA SWIGGETT of Hampton, Va., who boarded in Cincinnati for Newport News, Va.
MISS CARLA TRENTMAN of Covington, Ky., who boarded in Cincinnati.
DENZIL WARNER of Perkersburg, a serviceman coming home on leave.
MRS. HELEN WHEELER of Reading, Ohio, who boarded in Cincinnati.
MRS. THERESA ROWE WIDMER of Cincinnati, flying to Richmond, Va., to see her parents. She would have been 29 years old today.
DIANE LYNN WIDMER, MRS. WIDMER'S five-year-old daughter.
ROBERT KEITH WIDMER, her four-year-old son.
MISS JUDY BENHASE, 20, of Cincinnati, in critical condition at Charleston Memorial Hospital.
MISS SUE BOSKIN, 19, of Cincinnati, in critical condition at Charleston Memorial Hospital.
MISS BARBARA SCHILLER, 19, of Cincinnati, in satisfactory condition at Memorial Hospital.
DARRELL TRIPPLETT, 20, of Rt. 1, Branchland, Lincoln County, an Army
serviceman coming home on leave from Ft. Knox, Ky., in critical
condition at General Hospital.
THOMAS VOIGNIER, 27, of Cincinnati, another Priser Scientific Co.,
official coming to Charleston for the sales meeting in satisfactory
condition at Memorial Hospital.