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Re: Friday, December 16, 1960

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Posted by Nate Goldman on Sunday, December 23rd 2018:

In Reply to: Friday, December 16, 1960 posted by Flatbush Kid on Sunday, December 16th 2018:

A few years ago, some residents in Park Slope, actually found some debris from the DC-8 jet, in their back yard. The memories of that day are still very painful; in addition to all of the fatalities on the plane (including Stephen Baltz), there were six residents of Brooklyn, who were killed on the ground, including the 90 year old caretaker of the Pillar of Fire Church, a vendor selling Christmas trees on the sidewalk, a Dentist walking his dog, and three other individuals. There were no trauma centers at that time, as we have today. Stephen Baltz probably could have been saved today, as he died from pneumonia, which the ER Physicians did not diagnose, as they were concentrating on his burns. His sister and Mother had actually flown in to NYC, before him for a family reunion. His Father was an executive with Fedder's, out of Chicago. Stephen told the investigators before he died that after the mid-air collision with the TWA Constellation, he saw the ground coming closer and closer. He had no memory of the actual crash. There is the heart rendering photo of him lying on a snowbank, with residents covering him with a blanket. Apparently, the Captain of the United flight had lost all mechanical controls after the collision. The Captain just didn't have the power to make it to N.Y. International Airport(Idlewild). As bad as the situation was on the ground at the time, it could have been far worse, since the plane could have landed in the Fulton Street area in downtown Brooklyn, were there were thousands of people doing their Christmas shopping, at the various department stores. There was one patrolman at the scene (the crash occurred in the 78th Precinct), who was a veteran of World War Two, and had fought during the invasion of Normandy, into France, and into Germany, until V-E Day. He stated that the carnage at the scene at 7th Avenue and Sterling Place, was far worse than anything that he saw in Europe. There was a gathering at the site on the 40th anniversary, on Dec. 16, 2000, with a nurse from the ER room, who took care of Stephen Baltz. She stated that he was a very brave boy. The change that he carried in his pocket, was prominently displayed in a display case, at Methodist Hospital. I don't know if it is still there. On the 50th Anniversary, on Dec. 16, 2010, there was a larger gathering of all the surviving relatives at Greenlawn Cemetery. There, they dedicated a large plaque, which contained the names of the crew and passengers, on the United flight. I don't recall if the names of the crew and passengers of the TWA Constellation flight are also on that plaque? The latter flight had been coming from Columbus, Ohio, en route to LaGuardia. It was struck at a right angle by the United flight. Unfortunately, the Captain of the United Flight was proceeding at over 500 knots, and failed to inform air traffic control that one of his transponders was not working. He was eleven miles off course. In those days, radar could not differentiate the distance in feet between two planes, which were close to each other. ATC assumed that the two flights were safely separated. The widow of the United pilot tried to sue in Brooklyn Federal Court, claiming that her husband was following standard procedure and should not have been blamed. After that accident, the CAB ordered that no flights approaching the NYC area, under 10,000 feet, should fly in excess of 250 knots.

Reference ID: BK95668


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