Monday, May 23, 2016

'Unlucky' Mineral City man died in Tuscarawas County's first fatal airplane crash

Mineral City, Tuscarawas County, Ohio  --   Walter Murray was a chronically unlucky man.

Murray, a Mineral City resident, was seriously injured when he was very young and later lost a foot while working as a brakeman on the Pennsylvania Railroad out of New Philadelphia.

He also had the misfortune to die in the first fatal airplane crash in Tuscarawas County history.

"He was a boy who always would take chances," his mother, Mary, told the Dover Daily Reporter at the time of his death.

Near dusk on the evening of Oct. 14, 1924, Murray, 26, climbed into an airplane along with Harold Wood, 26, of Canton, who was just learning how to fly. The plane was being stored at a farm near Zoarville.

Delmar Beans of Canton, a World War I aviator who had charge of the plane, told Wood not to go up in the aircraft. "Don't go up tonight, whatever you do. The air is full of pockets."

Wood ignored Beans' advice. A short time later, Beans saw Wood and Murray flying over the farm.

"They'll never get back alive," Beans told Murray's brother Frank. The two of them then jumped into the Murray family car to follow them.

At about 6:15 p.m., the plane plunged 200 feet to the ground and exploded in a field near Zoarville.

R.F. Luthi and C.P. Reidenbach of Zoarville saw the plane crash and were the first people on the scene.

"The plane had been soaring above Zoarville and vicinity only a few minutes," Luthi told the Daily Reporter. "It was flying low over my house, and I remarked to Reidenbach that something seemed wrong.

"The pilot, it looked to me, had tried to turn too sharply. We could see he was in trouble, and could hear the gears screeching as he seemed to be trying to straighten up."

The plane was headed toward Conotton Creek when it crashed.

"Reidenbach and I started across the field and arrived at the spot only a few seconds after the crash. Flames enveloped the craft and the two men. We could see the men trapped in there. There was a large hole in Murray's forehead. The men apparently had been killed by the fall."

At about that time, a passenger train was passing by. The engineer saw the explosion and stopped the train. Then he and the passengers got off to help fight the fire, armed with shovels and fire extinguishers.

A second explosion then occurred.

"Then the flames seemed to subside, and we threw dirt over the debris and bodies of the men," Luthi said. "It was all of 10 minutes before we were able to reach the bodies. They were burned beyond recognition."

Word of the accident quickly spread, and within an hour several hundred motorists had traveled to Zoarville to view the scene of the tragedy.

Original article can be found here:

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