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Re: Friday, December 16, 1960

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Posted by Nate Goldman on Tuesday, December 17th 2019:

In Reply to: Re: Friday, December 16, 1960 posted by Barb on Monday, December 16th 2019:

I knew Detective John Zambratto of the 78th Detective Squad, who "caught", the case of the United Airlines crash into Park Slope. Then, the crash was investigated by the Civil Aeronautics Board,(CAB), but the NYPD still had to write a report. Also, I met a Sergeant, who together with his partner, were in the first 78th Precinct radio car on the scene. When they called in the crash to the 78th Precinct, nobody initially believed them. Finally, personnel were sent, resulting in hundreds of firefighters and cops at the scene; there were also ambulance attendants, who treated a number of injured people at the scene, the Red Cross which attended to people made homeless by the crash, the Auxiliary Police, which assisted the Emergency Services District of the NYPD, the FBI, CAB, and local reporters. It was only recently that I saw a tape from that event, and Mayor Wagner, who also came to the scene, was interviewed.

The NY Daily News' front page, showed a photo of Stephen Baltz lying in a snowbank, as there had been a 12 inch snowfall, only four days earlier. There were some compassionate pedestrians, who covered him with a blanket before he was taken to Methodist Hospital. Before he lost consciousness, Stephen told the hospital personnel, that he remembered the plane striking something, and then the plane started going lower and lower, and he could see the ground rapidly appearing. At the time of the crash, there was fog and light snow, and visibility was restricted. Stephen was thrown clear of the plane, after it crashed. From what I read, the passengers survived the impact of the crash, but perished in the fiery holocaust, which resulted from the fuel tanks exploding. There was a display at Methodist Hospital for many years, which mentioned Stephen Baltz, and it showed the change that he was carrying in his pocket.

My Father, who was a few miles away from the crash, told me he heard the crash and saw the smoke. Also, an announcement came over his vehicle radio, warning motorists to stay away from that area. I don't know for certain, but I assume that all commuter traffic on Flatbush Avenue was rerouted. I'm not sure if the BMT subway service at the 7th Avenue station was interrupted or not.

There was an NYPD Patrolman at the scene, who as a GI, had survived the invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and advanced into Germany, until VE Day. He later stated that he was traumatized, after having witnessed the massive destruction and loss of life, at 7th Avenue and Sterling Place, and the surrounding area.

On Dec. 16, 2000, on the fortieth anniversary of the accident, surviving relatives gathered at 7th Avenue and Sterling Place. The nurse who attended to Stephen Baltz, stated that he was a very brave boy. I believe that his Mother and sister had flown to NYC a day or two earlier. Stephen's Father was an executive with Fedder's Corporation.

The widow of the United Airlines Captain sued United Airlines in Federal Court, stating that her husband should not have been blamed for the crash by the CAB, as she alleged that the air traffic controllers were at fault. However, her lawsuit was dismissed, as the DC-8 was eleven miles off course, and the Captain bore most of the responsibility, for the collision. The other plane was a TWA Constellation, coming from Columbus, Ohio. It was on course,and was struck at aright angle, over Staten Island.

Not too long ago, I was speaking to a local resident in Columbus, Ohio, about that mid-air collision. He told me that he knew one of the victims on the TWA Constellation, as he used to sit near him, in his Synagogue.

Reference ID: BK96079


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