Scott County Historical Society

Scott County, Virginia

Documents
News Snippets

Home ] Auto Car ] July 4th ] Banking ] Remembering ] The Way ] News Snippets ] Clinch Mtn Tunnel ] [ Plane Crash ]
Use your browser's back button to return to the previous page.

The Scott County News

Gate City, Virginia, Thursday, August 15, 1946

A COCKPIT WINDOW indicated by arrow, served as a violent exit for one crew member, from the wreckage of this Navy twin-engined transport, which crashed atop Moccasin Ridge in Scott County Sunday afternoon. The pilot, who survived the tragedy, said that one of the crew either jumped, or was thrown from the plane before it struck. State troopers guarded the wreckage, but curious residents of the Snowflake community crossed the rope cordon to inspect the plane. (Photo courtesy of Kingsport Times-News)

Plane Hits Ridge In Scott Co.

     Hundreds of people, in and near Gate City filed up Moccasin Ridge Sunday afternoon to view the remains of a U. S. twin engine Navy plane which crashed near the top of the hill at about 3:30 p.m., killing two officers instantly and injuring three other Navy men, one critically.

     The injured were taken to the Holston Valley Community Hospital in Kingsport, Tenn.

     One of the injured, Chief Petty Officer John Tilton Beidelman, who suffered numerous fractures and severe shock in the wreck died at 3 :20 a.m. Monday morning, causing the death toll of the accident to rise to three.

     The other two men, injured less seriously, included: the pilot, Sanford C. Summerville, 35, of Akron, Ohio, who suffered a compound fracture of the ankle and a fractured skull; and 19-year old George Highbee Sanborn, Slst class, who. escaped with a dislocated vertebrae. They were reported still in "fairly good" condition. Tuesday night at the Holston Valley Community Hospital.

     The identity of the two officers apparently killed, instantly was withheld by naval authorities, pending notification of next of kin.

     Otis Blankenbecler, 36, who lives at. the bottom of Mocassin Ridge, said he was the first person to reach the scene of the crash and to offer assistance to the injured.  He was accompanied most of the way by Dudley Oaks, of Gate City, who turned back to summon aid, Blankenbecler said.

     Herbert Harvey, another nearby resident, said he saw the plane fly over, f1ames shooting from the exhaust, shortly before it circ1ed back and was lost from sight by trees between his house and the hill.

Thrown Out

     Blankenbecler said when he arrived on the scene, the pilot was lying near the tail of the plane and another man reported to have been thrown out, or to have jumped from, the plane shortly before it struck, was lying several feet away. He apparently had started down the hill to get help.

     Blankenbecler said the pilot saw him coming and asked him to go to the ship and see if he could help in any way. "I think some, of them are dead," he recalled the pilot saying.

     "He didn't take' on any," Blankenbecler remembered as he mentioned the pilotís own injuries. "He took it better than any man I ever saw."

     "The door of the plane was hanging open," he said. "I went in and pulled one of the men out from under one of the dead and brought him outside."

     The men were carried on stretchers down the mountainside to the ambulance when help arrived, he said.

     The plane, its propeller scattered on the ground, both engines badly damaged, but otherwise enact, attracted crowds of curious residents from the surrounding territory Sunday night.

     Cars lined the narrow dirt road winding through the mountains and the hill swarmed with people trying to get a close look at the plane. Even old women climbed ragged fences.

     The wreckage lay sprawled on a little knoll which caps the hill, roped off by Virginia State Policemen. Even as darkness fell upon the mountain area and a full moon pushed from behind a range, people were still coming, making the road below almost impassable.

 Contributed by Bruce Damon


Kingsport Times
Kingsport, Tenn., Monday, August 12, 1946

Death Toll At Three In Plane Crash

Bomber Crashes In Scott

A COCKPIT WINDOW indicated by arrow, served as a violent exit for one crew member, from the wreckage of this Navy twin-engine transport, which crashed atop Moccasin Ridge in Scott, County Sunday afternoon. The pilot, who survived the tragedy, said that one of the crew either jumped, or was thrown from the plane before it struck. State troopers guarded the wreckage, but curious, residents of the Snow-flake community crossed the rope cordon to inspect the plane. (Times-News Staff Photo by Ronnie Ezell)

     The death, toll rose to three Monday morning ass the result of the crash of a U. S. Navy transport plane Sunday afternoon atop Moccasin Ridge, near Snowflake, in Scott County, Va.

     Chief Petty Officer John Tilton Beidelmann, who suffered numerous fractures and severe shock in the wreck of the twin engined plane, died at 3:30 a.m. Monday at the Holston Valley Community Hospital; to which three survivors of the five-wan crew were taken.

     The naval air station at St. Simon identified the two other officers killed as Commander Harold G. Atherton, Station executive officer, and Aviation Chief Metalsmith Fred Jones. Home address were not listed.

     The two injured crew members are the pilot, Sanford C. Summerville, 35, of Akron, Ohio, who suffered a compound fracture of the ankle and a fractured skull; and 19-year-old George Highbee Sanborn, Sl/c, who escaped with a dislocated vertebra.

     Hospital attendants, Monday described Summervilleís condition as "fair" and Sanborn's as "good."

     The pilot said the plane was enroute from Detroit, Mich., to the St. Simons Naval Air Station, Ga., when the right engine developed trouble and in attempting to make a landing atop the ridge, both engines cut out.

Otis Blankenbecler, 36, who lives at the Bottom of Mossacin Ridge, said he was the first person to reach the scene of the crash and to offer assistance to the injured. He was accompanied most of the way by Dudley Oakes, of Gate City, who turned back to summon aid, Blankenbecler said.

     Herbert Harvey, another nearby resident, said he saw the plane fly over, flames shooting from the exhaust, shortly before it circled back and was lost from sight by trees between his house and the hill.

Thrown Out

     Blankenbecler said when he arrived on the scene, the pilot was laying near the tail of the plane and another man, reported to have been thrown out or jumped from the plane shortly before it struck, was laying several feet away. He apparently had started down the hill to get help.

     Blankenbecler said the pilot saw him coming and ask him to go into the ship and see if he could help in any way. "I think some of them are dead", he recalled the pilot saying.

     "He didnít take on any", Blankenbecler remembered, as he mentioned the pilotís own injuries. "He took it better than any man I ever saw."

     "The door to the plane was hanging open", he said. "I went in and pulled one of the men out from under the dead and brought him outside".

     The men were carried on stretchers down the mountainside to the ambulances when help arrived he said.

     The plane, its propeller scattered on the ground, both engines badly damaged, but otherwise intact, attracted crowds of curious residents from the surrounding territory Sunday night.

     Cars lined the narrow dirt road winding through the mountain and the hill swarmed with people trying to get a close look at the plane. Even old women climbed fences.

     The wreckage lay sprawled on a, little knoll which caps the hill, roped off by Virginia State Policemen. Even as darkness fell upon the mountain area and a full moon pushed from behind a range, people were still coming, making the road below almost impassable.

 


KINGSPORT NEWS Friday, August 16, 1946

KINGSPORT TIMES Friday August 16, 1946

Efficient Ex-Marine Gave Crash Victims First Aid

     Sometimes a good deed is so overshadowed by tragedy and excitement it goes unnoticed until long after the day's headlines have been filed away.

     Then as the scene returns to a degree of normalcy, stories come leaking through like an echo that's been a long time returning.

     That's how modest Elger N. Fleenor, Jr., returned Marine veteran of Nickelsville, Va., got into the limelight after Sunday's plane crash which resulted in death for three of the crew and seriously injured others atop Moccasin Ridge inScott County, Va.

     Young Fleenor literally fled the scene as soon as he had given valuable first aid to the injured as he had learned it in the Medical Corps with the Third Marine Division. The story came from secondhand but reliable sources.

Gave First Aid

     When Fleenor reached the plane immediately after the crash someone had dragged one of the occupants from the plane and propped him up with two parachutes. One look at the suffering man told Fleenor he was in one of the worst states of shock he had ever seen. He immediately ordered one of the assistants to lower the man's head.

     Then he went to work on the two other survivors, using rough splints and bandages torn from a parachute. He could find only one roll of bandage in the wrecked plane it was needed to bind the pilot's ankle.

     Questioned by his family as to why he didn't mention some of those facts to news reporters and photographers who later appeared on the scene, Fleenor said he didn't "hang, around" after he had done what he could for the injured and helped carry them down to the road when ambulances arrived.

     The son of Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Fleenor of Nickelsvllle, he is the brother of Mrs, Tate McDonnell of 1402 Lawrence Avenue, Kingsport, and John Fleenor of the Fort Robinson addition. He has another brother, Joe Fleenor, employed at the Tennessee Eastman Corporation, who lives between Gate City and Snowflake, Va.

     He saw combat in the South Pacific during his 22 months with the Navy and U. S. Marine Corps.

 

 

Home ] Up ] Auto Car ] July 4th ] Banking ] Remembering ] The Way ] News Snippets ] Clinch Mtn Tunnel ] [ Plane Crash ]