Last year we looked back at the in-air plane crash that sent the wreckage of a United Airlines flight onto the streets of Park Slope, and a TWA aircraft onto Staten Island. This December 16th will mark the 50th anniversary of the crash, and the Brooklyn Paper revisits it today, noting that there isn't much of a memorial in the neighborhood, but still some locals left who witnessed the tragedy.
The planes collided at 10:33 a.m., over a military airfield on Staten Island—the United flight hit 126 Sterling Place in Park Slope before crashing into 123 Sterling Place. Vito Fiumefreddo was 17 at the time, and ten blocks away; he told the paper, “I ran towards it to see what it was all about. I climbed up on a mound of snow and I saw. The stench was horrible. You could smell the burning flesh.” All of the 130 souls on board were killed, as well as 6 people on the ground—including a doctor who was out walking his dog. Fiumefreddo says bodies were taken to a nearby bowling alley, that became a temporary morgue—it's currently a pool hall on Flatbush Avenue.
While all passengers died (including the 44 on the TWA flight that crashed in Staten Island), 11-year-old Stephen Baltz of Illinois did survive for more than a day. While at Methodist Hospital, Baltz told the doctors, “I remember looking out the plane window at the snow below covering the city. It looked like a picture out of a fairy book. Then all of a sudden there was an explosion. The plane started to fall and people started to scream. I held on to my seat and then the plane crashed.”
Baltz had 65 cents in his pocket, which is part of a small bronze memorial in the hospital's chapel. A more grand memorial will be unveiled at Green-Wood Cemetery next week—it will be 8-feet-tall and made of granite, with the names of all those killed etched into it. The unveiling and a memorial service will take place at the cemetery on December 16th at 9:45 a.m.