Transcribed from St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, FL, June 1, 1947, p. 1:

Kin Attempt to Identify Air Victims

 

PORT DEPOSIT, Md. — (AP) — Hushed relatives of the 53 dead in America’s most terrible commercial air disaster came in from all over the south and east yesterday to visit an improvised morgue and do their best to make identifications.

Not one of the victims of the crash Friday night of a southbound Eastern Air Lines DC-4 escaped mutilation when the big plane struck and shattered.

Forty-nin passengers one of them a baby in its mother’s arms, and four crew members were removed early yesterday to the drab and deserted commissary at Bainbridge naval training station.

There the kinfolks, navy doctors and dentists, and Eastern Air Lines’ medical examiners began the slow and gruesome business of making identification through dental work, personal trinkets or distinguishing body marks.

About 24 hours after the crash, only eight bodies had been positively identified.

The eight included: Mrs. H. Schrifrin, New York city; Mrs. Edit Stuart and her one-year-old son, Miami Beach; Donna Medling, Watertown, Conn.; Leo and Queenie Machtel, Miami; Theodore Lundstrom, the plane purser from Elmont, N.Y.; and Stewardess Helena O’Brien, New York city.

The DC-4 left Newark at 4:55 p. m. Friday night bound for Miami, and most of the dead were residents of the south or northeast.

The cause of the crash, whose death toll was the largest of any commercial airline disaster in United States history, remained much in doubt. Several witnesses, however, told investigators that the tail section of the four-engine ship came off before it crashed.

The civil aeronautics board announced in Washington it will decide this week on a date for public hearings on the disaster.

John Chamberlain, assistant director of the safety bureau, who saw the crash while flying over the Port Deposit area, said the hearings normally are held a week or 10 days after an accident.

Meanwhile, CAB investigators, Eastern Air Lines officials and a thousand men from the naval base spent the day looking over the scene and checking over the fragments which were all that remained of the DC-4.

Dr. R. C. Dodson, Cecil county medical examiner, expressed the hope that relatives would approve mass burial of the victims, possibly in nearby West Nottingham cemetary.

It appeared, however, that relatives of those positively identified would choose resting places elsewhere.

The kin of the victims began arriving in the early morning. They were taken to the hostess house at the training station, where they talked in low and awed tones of the catastrophe.

After a few hours they were called to go by bus to the commissary building, several hundred yards away.

There in a long room the bodies had been placed on trestle-like platforms about three inches from the floor. As rapidly as a body was identified it was marked with a number and doctors passed on to the next.

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