Transcribed from The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, WA, January 7, 1960, page 16:
Cruel Twist of Fate Deals Death to 34
NEW YORK, Jan. 6. (AP) — Sheer chance, a grim twist to the wheel of fate, put 34 persons aboard a National Airlines night coach that crashed today in North Carolina.
The 29 passengers on the ill-fated New York to Miami flight originally were booked on a Boeing 707 flight from Idlewild. But the jet liner was taken out of service at the last minute because of a broken windshield.
Seventy-six of the passengers, on a first-come-first-serve basis, were transferred to an Electra turboprop plane which flew them safely to Miami.
Bound for Vacations
The ill-starred 29 were put aboard the DC-6B four-engine propeller plane that crashed. Most of them were from the east, bound for Florida for vacation, fun or on business. Many were heads of families, and nearly a score of children were orphaned in the crash.
Among those killed was retired navy Vice Adm. Edward C. McDonnell, 68. He won the medal of honor — the nation’s highest military decoration — for heroism at Vera Cruz in 1914. He was a flier in World War I and commanded escort aircraft carriers in the Pacific in World War II. After retiring in 1946, McDonnell became a partner in the Wall Street investment banking firm of Hornblower & Weeks.
The plane apparently disintegrated in rain and darkness near Bolivia, N. C., and showered wreckage and bodies over a 20-acre area.
Searchers found 32 bodies, but no survivors, before darkness and foul weather halted the search tonight.
There was no ready explanation for the cause of the accident, the first fatal air liner crash of the new year. A National Airlines spokesman said there was no indication of foul play.
At Kure beach, 25 miles east, two housewives found a chunk of metal, about the size of a coffee table, which an air lines spokesman said was “very definitely part of the aluminum skin of an airplane, presumably this one.”
John L. Morris, a National Airlines vice president, visited the crash scene. Later he said in a statement:
“The plane apparently disintegrated in the air from an unknown cause. The plane was in good order and was in the hands of a veteran crew. There was nothing from the pilot prior to the crash that would indicate malfunction.”