Three Leverett Witnesses Describe Elizabeth Crash Scene as 'Eerie'

Yesterday morning's Elizabeth plane crash was an "eerie, fiery scene, with onlookers muttering angrily and determined to prevent a repetition of another New Jersey plane disaster," three Leverett House eye-witnesses at the accident told the CRIMSON yesterday.

The three men, Juliua L. Garelick '52, Marc Gertner '54 and Bruce R. Ruttenberg '54 were en route to Cambridge Monday morning when just outside Elizabeth they heard radio reports of the crash and saw the flames.

"When we got there," Ruttenberg said, "the fire was still blazing away."

"The fuselage of the plane was lying in the middle of Westminster Avenue--it had dug a deep rut in the road," Gertner added. "Parts of the motor and wings were lying all over a playground."

Ruttenberg said, "We met a Mr. Chase (Herbert S. Chase '19) who lives about 50 yards from the scene of the crash. The lawn next door to Mr. Chase's house was littered with seats from the plane Mr. Chase told of a five year old girl, strapped to her seat, who had been flung clear of the wreckage, and managed to free herself and walk away, dazed but unhurt."


Garelick said a neighbor of Chase's had been awakened by the ringing of his doorbell, just after the crash. He opened the door, and there stood a passenger, dazed and with a bloody arm, but otherwise unhurt.

Ironically, the plane hit and caromed off an apartment house just between a Red Cross center and an orphanage where about 50 children were sleeping.

"Only the center wing of the apartment house was damaged," Ruttenberg maintained, "and there, just the fourth floor was demolished. In the other wings, lights were on, and curtains waved gently in the breeze, it was a frightening contrast--the normality of the waving curtains and the wreckage below."

Howard W. Emmons, Gordon McKay Professor of Engineering Science, said yesterday that the three crashes were probably due to independent causes. "Unless there is something wrong with the management of the airport as such, it is no worse than any other," he said.

Recommended Articles