Transcribed from The Victoria Advocate, Victoria, TX, October 5, 1960, p. 1, 10:
60 Persons Killed in Plane Disaster
Airliner Crashes At Boston
FBI Seeking Lost Document
BOSTON (AP) — Moments after leaving a runway on a flight to the south, a huge Eastern Airlines plane with 71 people and a “secret document” aboard plunged into the muddy waters of Boston Harbor late Tuesday.
Six hours later the death toll was set at 60. There were 11 known survivors, all injured and being treated in three hospitals.
Among the passengers were 15 young recruits of the U.S. Marine Corps, en reoute to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. Ten of the rookie Leathernecks were among the known dead and at least three others were injured.
Existence of the unidentified secret document became known late Tuesday. Capt. Carl Larsen, State Police officer in charge of rescue operations at the scene, said he was informed of it by a member of the Office of Special Investigation (OSI), a branch of the U.S. Air Force.
Capt. Larsen said he was told the document had been aboard the plane at takeoff and was later missing. He said the FBI started a search for the document and an investigation of its disappearance.
Thomas L. Hakcett, an official of the OSI at the airport, admitted his organization was looking for “something important” but said it was not top secret.
Although the FBI office in downtown Boston refused to comment, an airline spokesman said the FBI had made inquiries at Eastern’s in-town office.
The turbo-prop Electra plane — second of its kind to crash in less than three weks — carried 66 passengers and a crew of 5. Early reports from the airline said there were 67 passengers, but it later developed that one — Harold C. Thomas of North Easton, Mass. — missed the flight, No. 375.
The two stewardesses survived the accident but were hospitalized.
The Miami office of Eastern Airlines said that the pilot and co-pilot also survived, but later could not confirm that they had. They could not be located in any hospital. The same Miami report said the flight engineer was missing.
The plane, bound for Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., Greenville, S.C., and Atlanta, Ga., came down in muddy water about 200 yards offshore. It was at low tide at the time — 6:45 p.m — and some rescuers slogged through seas of mud, while others hurried out in many kinds of boats.
The airliner broke into two pieces.
Bodies, still strapped in their seats, popped into the water and floated about the scene. Many were badly cut and disfigured. Some were soaked with oil.
The scene took on an eerie appearance after darkness fell. Flashlights pierced the murkiness, helicopters hovered at low altitudes and shone searchlights down on the wreckage.
Small boats, skindivers, wading rescuers toiled to get the injured and the dead to shore.
A naval reserve commander, Donald Regan of Winthrop, a Boston suburb bordering Logan International Airport, was among the first to reach the scene.
He said he helped pull out five or six survivors, as well as some bodies.
The most recent accident involving an Electra was Sept. 14. On that occasion all 76 aboard the craft lived to tell about it. The plane struck a dike on a landing approach at New York’s La Guardia Airport, flipped over on its back and burned.
Before that crash Electra planes had figured in three accidents taking a total of 162 lives. Two of those crashes occurred when the planes lost wings in seemingly safe flying weather. The Lockheed Aircraft Corp., the builders of the $2.3 million planes, then began a modificaiton program while the Federal Aviation Agency ordered all Electras to be flown at reduced speed.
The Boston Globe quoted FAA Administrator Elwood R. Quesada as saying he has no plans to ground Electras at this time.
“From the sketchy information we have so far, it appears there is no relation between this accident and the trouble that attracted public attention.”
Quesada was alluding to demands for grounding Electras that followed a Northwest Airlines crash in Tell City, Ind., last March when 63 people were killed. In that tragedy, outer engine damage combined with air turbulence were ascribed as factors.
Stanley E. Cootey, 39, of Winthrop, was one of the first at the scene of Tuesday’s crash. He described it this way:
“It all happened just as my family finished supper. There was this big explosion and I ran from my house, about 100 yards from the seawall.
“I heard people yelling in the water for help. One woman screamed, ‘Come out and help us. Get some help to us.’
“I could see the tail section sticking out of the water. I jumped over the seawall and started pushing through the mud.
“Soon I dived into the water with all my clithes[sic] on and started swimming. I could see four or five persons clinging to the tail section. A small boat came up with a body on it.
“The entire bay area was strewn with debris. It was hard to tell which was debris and which were bodies.
“I could see seats floating in the way and people were still strapped to them.”
A dozen additional Marines, who were scheduled to make the flight, missed death or injury because there weren’t enough seats for them.
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