Probe Begins Into Crash That Killed Teenage Peace Crusader
AUBURN, Maine (AP) _ The cause of a plane crash that killed Samantha Smith, the 13-year-old whose VIP tour of the Soviet Union gained her an international reputation, may not be known for months, an investigator says.
Samantha died with her father, Arthur Smith, 45, and six other people when the Bar Harbor Airlines flight from Boston crashed Sunday night on approach to Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport.
″We are quite confident that everyone died upon impact,″ said Patrick Bursley of the National Transportation Safety Board, one of more than a dozen NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration investigators sent to the scene.
The Beechcraft 99 turboprop plane grazed tall trees about a half-mile from the airport, then crashed and exploded a quarter- to an eighth-mile short of the runway in a hilly, heavily wooded area, Bursley said Monday.
Despite a fire that heavily damaged the wreckage, investigators should be able to determine whether engine failure played a role in the crash, he said.
Small commercial planes are not required to carry flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders, known as ″black boxes″ and designed to survive the impact of a crash, Bursley said.
″It will be a matter of months″ before the cause of the crash can be determined, he said.
Bursley said in a news conference that the last communication he was aware of from pilot Roy Fraunhofer came about 15 minutes before the crash when he made a routine weather request.
The flight was not originally scheduled to stop in Auburn, but had been merged with another Bar Harbor flight from Boston after rain forced delays at Logan International Airport, airline officials said.
At a news conference in Bangor, airline spokesman Steven Mason identified the two crew members whowere killed as Roy Fraunhofer, the pilot, and David Owen, the first officer, both from the Bangor area.
He identified the other victims as Alan Saveall, 38, of Waterville; Joanne Reilly, 53, of San Diego; Earl Dunphy, 57, of Louisiana; and James C. Eastman, 46, of Washington.
A memorial service for Samantha and her father was planned for Wednesday at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Augusta, said family friend Ted Warren.
Samantha’s mother, Jane Smith, said donations in her daughter’s memory could be made to the International Environmental Education Foundation in Estes Park, Colo., or the US-USSR Bridges for Peace in Norwich, Vt.
She said her husband and daughter were returning from a two-week stay in England, where Samantha had been filming the new weekly ABC-TV action- adventure show ″Lime Street,″ which was to be aired on Sept. 21.
Bursley said the investigation would include officials from the FAA, representatives of the airline, the aircraft’s manufacturer and officials from Pratt and Whitney, which built the engines.
He said the probe would include an investigation into airline training.