1989 channel crash recalled 1957

The above 1989 U.S. Air crash image with 1957 Northeast Airlines crash image insert
is from the front page of the August/Sept. 1989 issue of NYC DOC's Correction News (below).

Click the above image of the front page of the August./Sept. issue of DOC's tabloid-size Correction News for a downloadable, printable and readable letter-size Adobe Acrobat PDF version.
The caption beneath the larger image and next to the small image insert on the Correction News front page reads:

Above, members of the Department of Correction, Special Operations Division, who responded to the US Air [Boeing 737-400] plane crash (background) at La Guardia Airport. When a mutual assistance plan was set in motion with the Port Authority’s emergency “Call 44,” nearly 150 correction officers in department vehicles and two patrol boats responded. Inset, in 1957, Protestant Chaplain F. Frederick Proelss gives last rites to the victims of a DC-6A airliner, which crashed on Rikers Island near the Penitentiary (known as the James A. Thomas Center) minutes after take-off in a snow storm from La Guardia.

Below the August/Sept. 1989 Correction News front page images and caption appeared the story on the U.S. Air crash in Rikers Island channel waters:

Within minutes after US Air Flight 5050 crashed into the East River off of Runway 13-31 at LaGuardia Airport, the Department of Correction’s Transportation Division was alerted by Rikers Island Security to pick up officers from facilities on Rikers Island to help.

Above b&w image appears page 15 of the National Transportation Safety Board's 104-page report on the Sept. 20, 1989 U.S. Air Flight 5050 in Rikers Island channel.

On Page 20, the report notes: Agencies involved in the rescue operation included the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York Police Department, the New York City Fire Department, including the Harbor Unit, the United States Coast Guard, the New York City Harbor Patrol, and the Rikers Island Emergency Response Unit of the New York City Department of Corrections.

There were no other references to Rikers or DOC in the 104-page NTSB report that blamed pilot and copilot errors for the Boeing 737 overrunning the runway after belatedly aborting takeoff.

Of the 63 passengers aboard, two -- Betsy Brogan, 37, a nurse from Tennessee, and her mother-in-law, Ayles Brogan of Virginia -- were killed.

In 1991, James G. Brogan established a nursing scholarship endowment at East Tennessee State University College of Nursing (right) in memory of his wife Betsy Hayter Brogan, a 1971 graduate.

This action was a part of Operation Low Key, a mutual assistance plan with the Port Authority police.

The agencies had been rehearsing annually for such disasters for the past nine years.

Supervising Warden James T. Garvey Jr. set the department's part of the operation in motion when he received reports of the down aircraft on Wednesday September 20.

As rehearsed so many times, the department provided manpower to carry stretchers and buses to move people around the airport.

The DOC also sent patrol boats and two divers [Correction Officers Robert Walton and Felix Aponte] to assist in the search for bodies -- dead or alive. While the DOC’s response was a great demonstration of preparedness with 150 correction officers responding, the disaster was not the worst case imagined by one Emergency Response Unit captain.

"All you hear is that a plane went down and you think bodies," said Capt. Peter Meringolo. “It is scary to think of how many people, God forbid, could have been dead.”

Retired Deputy Chief James T. Garvey, Jr., who set in motion DOC's response to the Flight 5050 crash, now with Curnyn Associates consulting.
Two bodies were later recovered from the plane and, according to Newsday’s account, 30 or more passengers were rescued from the wings and 20 from the water as they were grabbing at the base of the pier. There were 57 aboard the plane.

Because of Rikers Island location in the East River just off of LaGuardia Airport, there is a great need for concern about airplane disasters. To many in the department the crash. of US Air Flight 5050 was reminiscent of one that occurred on February 1, 1957 when minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport a DC-6A aircraft
Click image for Part III of this presentation.
went down on Rikers Island. The plane, bound for Miami and carrying 91 passengers, crashed just east of the House of Detention for Men (known as the James A. Thomas Center). Twenty passengers died in the crash.

The Operation Low Key is a part of an elaborate rescue scheme worked out by the Port Authority police that involves the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Emergency Medical Service, the Red Cross and the Coast Guard. Plane crashes are [simulated] in exercises held in October on Rikers and LaGuard Airport in alternate years.

Click image for Part I of this presentation.
Click image for Part II of this presentation.

To List of DOC staffers honored for air crash response.
To: List of names of those aboard Northeast Airlines DC-6A Feb. 1, 1957
To The Andersons of Canada remember.
To Remembering Mario DeRosa.
To Remembering Esther Chopelas.
To CAB report on its investigation of the crash.
To: Other views, other voices: Rikers air crash
To: NYCHS home page.
To NYC DOC history menu page.