Home » Colorado » Plane Crash Part 2

Plane Crash Part 2

In my post, Killed in Plane Crash, I shared some clippings from unknown papers regarding the death of C. Clay Crawford in a plane crash in March 1991. A reader suggested that they might be able to locate the paper.

Thinking that the article might be from a Pueblo Colorado newspaper, I checked the archives of The Pueblo Chieftain and located three articles about C. Clay Crawford.

The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colorado)
4 March 1991

Death comes in explosive crash

By Karen Vigil
25 people killed as
airliner disintegrates
in Widefield park

WIDEFIELD — United Airlines Flight 585 ended here Sunday morning in a fireball explosion that killed its 20 passengers and five crew members.

The plane that nose-dived into Widefield Community Park about 9:55 a.m. narrowly missed an apartment complex and homes in a residential area. An 8-year-old girl standing in her apartment was knocked to the ground by the impact of the crash, but that was the only injury on the ground.

The twin-engine Boeing 737-200 was making a southern approach to the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport when it slammed into the narrow park, leaving only charred grass and unrecognizable pieces of planes and body parts.

A twisted scrap of burned fuselage with the airlines’ red, white and blue logo, a tire and an engine were the biggest pieces of the plane scattered over the five-acre site.

The biggest part of the plane was partially buried in a crater — about 15 to 20 feet deep, said Louis Mathews, an emergency medical technician at the Security Fire Department.

Eight-year-old Michelle Summerson, who lives in the Widefield Apartment Complex about 100 yards from the accident, was thrown backward from the doorway where she was standing. Her head was slightly bruised. She was treated for the injury and released, according to a spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital.

Among the known dead were Puebloans Clay and Jo Crawford. Crawford was formerly the presi dent of CF&I Steel Corp.

The names of the plane’s 20 passengers were not released Sunday night. United is expected to release the passenger and flight crew list this morning, according to Sgt. Dean Kelsey of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department.

Colorado Springs residents known to have been on the flight include three employees of the U.S. Olympic Committee, according to Mike Moran, a spokesman for the committee.

They were Dr. Peter J. van Handel, 45, a senior sports physiologist; Dr. Andrezj J. Komor, 39, a sports biochemist; and Dan Birknoltz, a cycling development coach and coordinator.

The plane’s pilot and co-pilot were from San Francisco. The three flight attendants were from the New York City area.

Speaking for United, Kelsey said, the relatives of the passengers were being housed by the airline at the Red Lion Inn in Colorado Springs.

Authorities at Stapleton International Airport in Denver, the plane’s last stop before the crash, set up a lounge where relatives of passengers could go for information and comfort, said airport official Richard Boulware.

Before arriving in Denver, the plane had stopped in Moline, Ill. The stop before that was Peoria, Ill.

As relatives and friends absorbed the news, the crash site — about 2 acres in size — was the focus of work by firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, Colorado State Patrol troopers, spectators and media.

While there were no official reports of the cause of the plane crash, witnesses and officials speculated that the pilot avoided hitting the apartment complex and the nearby residential area by skill — or luck.

“It was either one of those,” Kelsey said.

Mathews said it “looks like the plane came straight down.”

“It looks like the aircraft went in at a straight angle,” he said. “It looks like there are parts in the ground.”

Mathews said emergency crews arrived to find a “large amount of fire,” but “it was knocked out quickly.”

Several witnesses stated that they’d seen the plane nearly upside down fly between two buildings in the apartment complex. Some said the twin-engine jet actually clipped buildings. Six windows were broken by the explosion’s vibrations.

Then, witnesses said, the plane traveled up and then straight down into the park. Several apartment house residents said they saw flames coming from one of the plane’s engines.

Residents in the area weren’t questioning the pilot’s motive for crashing the plane in the park. They were shaken but relieved at the thought of what might have happened,.

“I am not going on a plane again,” said apartment resident Mike Miller. “It was too close to home.”

While residents dealt with the question of why they were spared, authorities combed through the park that had been marked by yellow barricade tape where they marked each plane fragment and other debris.

Hundreds of chards of glass and metal attached to the yellow tape dotted the park. An evergreen tree, whose branches were cut by the sharp metal, stood sentry near a human leg that had been propelled about 200 yards from the wreckage.

Emergency workers scoured the area for personal belongings of passengers. Only a few bags containing torsos were removed from the area. Kelsey said a decision was made to leave the body parts in the grass overnight to help investigators determine the direction of the explosion.

By sunset, large Air Force portable lights had been set up around the park to maintain security, Kelsey said. National Transportation Safety Board and United officials were at the scene with more expected to arrive Sunday night.

No work would be done Sunday night at the crash site, according to Kelsey, who confirmed that wind possibly contributed to the crash. The weather was clear but there were high, gusty winds in the area at the time of the crash, said Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Mistretta. The National Weather Service said winds were from the northwest — at 23 mph to 32 mph.

Airline and NTSB officials would continue sifting through the wreckage today, Kelsey said.

Arnold Scott of the NTSB’s Denver office said officials probably would be able to release the investigation results in about a week.

Emergency workers said both of the plane’s black boxes containing cockpit recordings had been pulled from the site, but Kelsey would not confirm those reports.

It was the third major accident involving U.S. airlines in three months. On Dec. 3, two Northwest Airlines jets collided on the ground at the Detroit Airport, killing eight people. On Feb. 1, a USAir jet landing at the Los Angeles airport struck a commuter plane on the runway, killing 34 people.

Boeing spokesman Craig Martin in Seattle said the Boeing 737-200 was delivered to now-defunct Frontier Airlines in May 1982.

Martin said United bought the plane in June 1986. He said the aircraft was “relatively young,” with only 26,000 air hours. It had a capacity of 109 passengers.


The Pueblo Chieftain
March 4, 1991

Puebloans are among the victims

C. Clay Crawford

. . . returning home

Former CF&I Steel President C. Clay Crawford and his wife Jo were among the 25 people killed Sunday when a United Airlines Boeing 737 crashed in a suburban Colorado Springs neighborhood.

The Puebloans were returning from Hawaii, where they had been visiting family friends.

The Crawfords were on the final leg of their return journey. They had flown to California, then to Denver before boarding United Flight 585 bound for Colorado Springs Municipal Airport.

The news shocked CF&I President Frank Yaklich Jr.

“All of us at CF&I are sad dened. He was a great contributor to CF&I,” Yaklich said. “It’s a shock to all of us right now.”

Crawford headed CF&I for six years. He was elected president of the company in 1970. He retired in April 1976, after 30 years with the company.

Crawford joined CF&I in 1946 after having served in the Pacific as a major in the Army Corps of Engineers.

A graduate of the Colorado School of Mines, he held various managerial positions with CF&I before being named works man ager in 1961. He was named vice president for operations in 1965 and served as vice president and general manager of the Pueblo plant before ascending to the company’s presidency.

Active in civic affairs, Crawford served as chairman of St. Mary-Corwin Hospital’s Development Fund Campaign, as chairman of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, as a trustee of the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Colorado Springs, and as a board member of the Colorado Safety Association.

Robert J. Slater succeeded Crawford as CF&I president. Yaklich became the company’s president in 1980.


Crawford’s love of minerals shared with everyone


By Staff Writer
October 16, 1994
Publication: Pueblo Chieftain, The (CO)
Word Count: 576
By MARVIN READ

C. Clay Crawford

The Pueblo Chieftain

COLORADO SPRINGS – Tucked away amidst the gigantic and powerful tools of mining and smelting at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry is a small – tiny, in relation to everything around it – display of rocks, minerals, ores and crystals.

About 40 percent of the 100-plus items had been donated by the late C. Clay Crawford, who was president of CF&I Corp. from 1970 until he retired in April 1976. He and his wife, Jo Moore Crawford, died March 3, 1991, in a still-unexplained crash of a United Airlines Boeing 737 in Widefield, south of Colorado Springs, on final landing approach.

The crash site is less than 25 miles south of the WMMI, located directly east of the Air Force Academy. Crawford was first elected to the museum’s board of directors in 1974 and was elected president in 1977.

The display, established as a memorial last March, is both deceptively small and elaborately beautiful. Half the collection focuses on five metals which have brought wealth to many in Colorado: Gold, silver, molybdenum, lead and zinc.

The remaining items represent a rainbow of mineral wealth: The yellows of apatite, the lavender of amethyst, the blue-greens of turquoise, the rich red of vanadite and the flower-like detailings of the rose-colored barite.

“Mr. Crawford’s great love was to educate children, especially about minerals. He loved to take his grandchildren and other youngsters on rock hunts,” said Linda LeMieux, executive director of the museum, located in four buildings on 27 acres just off Interstate 25’s exit 156A.

“It’s nice that we can still use a good share of what was his collection,” Ms. LeMieux said, adding, “We love to show what he collected and so much enjoyed.”

Most of the specimens are from Colorado, Ms. LeMieux said.

The museum itself is an impressive collection of working machinery – including a CF&I steam shovel that operated at the Sunrise Mine in southeastern Wyoming from 1927-1939 – photos, memorabilia, faux mine shafts, an old-time bar, and several displays of what mined metals can be fashioned into.

Centerpiece of the main building, the Schisler-Molloy Library and Exhibit Building, is a huge Corliss Steam engine, so large that its flywheel alone weighs in at 17 tons.

The museum contains an 11,000-book library, which can be used on-site by researchers and students.

Museum vistors, students and outreach students total about 35,000 yearly, Ms LeMieux said.

In such a setting, the Crawford memorial exhibit seems overshadowed, but the cases in which the specimens are contained also hold magnifying glasses, enabling viewers to “get lost” in the eons-old complexities of nature and her elaborate fashionings of grains, glitters, specks, colors and textures.

Members of Crawford’s family cooperated with the exhibit, Ms LeMieux said, and they were present at a formal, low-key, by-invitation-only opening of the exhibit today.

“The family is very pleased with the exhibit,” she said, adding that “This just seemed to be the right time to have the display.”

The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While perhaps not many but the most avid of rock and gem hunters would fully appreciate the fragile beauty of the Crawford exhibit, no one can fail to put it in perspective among the other displays, implements and tools of the mining industry.

Crawford, an avid collector not only of rocks and minerals, but also of pueblo pottery, contemporary lithographs, 19th-century folk oils and Oriental art, would have exulted in the juxtaposition of the fragile and the mammoth.

While the two articles from 1991 about the plane crash are very similar to what I’ve already found, the third article about Clary Crawford’s love of minerals would not have been located if not for the prompt to locate the unidentified article!