Friday, October 23, 2015

On October 23,1970—45 years ago today: Piper PA-28, N5223L

Francis B. Alexander crashed a rented single-engine plane into the Virgen de San Juan del Valle Shrine in San Juan in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Twenty minutes before the crash, Alexander reportedly radioed a warning that all Methodist and Catholic churches in the area should be evacuated. 


More than 130 people were in the shrine at the time of the crash, but Alexander was the only person killed. 


Two priests saved the three-foot-tall statue of Our Lady of San Juan, but the shrine’s damages were estimated at $1.5 million.


Funds were raised, and in April 1980, a new shrine was dedicated.


- Source:  http://www.kwtx.com


NTSB Identification: FTW71AF019

14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28, registration: N5223L

3-1648  70/10/23   SAN JUAN,TEX        PIPER PA-28         CR-  1  0  0  NONCOMMERCIAL             COMMERCIAL, FL.INSTR.,
        TIME - 1050                    N5223L              PX-  0  0  0  PLEASURE/PERSONAL TRANSP  AGE 52, 3500 TOTAL HOURS,
                                       DAMAGE-DESTROYED    OT-  0  0  0                            UNK/NR IN TYPE, NOT
                                                                                                   INSTRUMENT RATED.
        DEPARTURE POINT             INTENDED DESTINATION
          MCALLEN,TEX                 SAN JUAN,TEX
        TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                         PHASE OF OPERATION
           COLLIDED WITH: BUILDING(S)                               IN FLIGHT: OTHER
        PROBABLE CAUSE(S)
           PILOT IN COMMAND - PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITION
           MISCELLANEOUS - SUICIDE
         FIRE AFTER IMPACT
        REMARKS- DELIBERATELY DOVE INTO PRE-ANNOUNCED CHURCH AFTER REQUESTING CHURCHES IN AREA BE EVACUATED.


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