Transcribed from Ludington Daily News, Ludington, MI, June 7, 1971, p. 6A:

Navy Jet, Airliner Collide, 49 Killed

 

AZUZSA, Calif. (UPI)–An Air West DC9 jetliner collided Sunday with a Navy fighter plane 12,000 feet over Mt. Bliss, killing 49 persons. There apparently was just one survivor.

The two planes plowed into the rugged mountain in the Angeles National Forest, spewing wreckage a mile over the almost inaccessible terrain.

The known survivor was a Marine first lieutenant who parachuted to safety seconds after the collision. The pilot of his Navy Phantom F-4B apparently was killed.

Sheriff’s deputies quoted witnesses as saying the military craft apparently ripped into the side of the DC9, opening a gaping hole. Witnesses said articles apparently streamed from the big jet as it plunged toward the mountainside.

Deputies said pieces of paper flew out the hole in the side of the jetliner. Several were recovered and officers said they were marked with Sunday’s date and the name Air West.

Witnesses said other objects, possibly luggage, fell out of the hole but none was recovered.

County Fire Division Chief Dean Russell, who flew over the wreckage several times, was asked by newsmen if there were any other survivors.

“If there are, it will be the greatest miracle I’ve ever seen,” he replied.

“There was no room for it (the DC9) to skid, it just went straight in. WHen it hit the ground it broke all to hell,” a sheriff’s spokesman said.

There were 43 passengers and a crew of five aboard the DC9, which split in two major pieces in a wooded area about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Sheriff’s deputies flown to the crash area said the bodies of nine persons, all apparently thrown clear on impact, were found beside the tail section of the jetliner.

Because of heavy fog, authorities said no attempt would be made until daybreak to remove the bodies and look for others in the wreckage.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the jetliner was Flight 706 from Los Angeles International Airport to Salt Lake City and had taken off minutes before the collision. The Phantom fighter was out of El Toro Marine Air Station near Santa Ana, Calif.

The survivor, Marine 1st Lt. Christopher E. Schiess, 24, of Salem, Ore., who was serving as radar interceptor aboard the Navy plane, declined to talk to sheriff’s investigators.

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