Plane crash kills 4
The street is quiet and the house is unremarkable. A neighbor's small collection of emergency vehicles might be the only unintentional clue that something terrible ever happened on Gullo Avenue.
The death toll would have been higher, authorities said, if pilot Harry Smith of Chico hadn't cut the ignition on the Piper Tri-Pacer moments before it went down over Pacoima, hitting the edge of a home where the Worth family was having a birthday party.
In addition to Smith, who owned a construction company, the crash killed Terrence Lockhart, Robert Peterson and Owen Wallis. "Firemen had to literally tear apart the crumpled fuselage to reach the bodies of the victims," The Times said.
Photographs by Larry Harnisch Los Angeles Times
9410 Gullo Ave., Pacoima, Calif.
Ed Rauch, a neighbor, said: "The plane was about 2,000 feet up when I heard the engine cough and I looked up. It went into a roll and one wing collapsed backward. Then it nosed over into a dive and the pilot gunned the motor, then cut it. The plane dived straight down. It was silent and kind of eerie. The pilot had no chance to guide it away from buildings."
Fortunately, the plane only clipped the edge of the home. Five feet closer and it could have wiped out an entire family: Barry Worth and his wife, Mary; their children Katherine, Danny and Harold; Worth's sister-in-law, Erica, and his mother-in-law, Katie Bauchwitz, and father-in-law, H.E. Bauchwitz.
The fatal crash renewed calls for new flight restrictions for the San Fernando Valley, where a transport plane and a jet fighter collided over Pacoima on Jan. 31, 1957, killing three Pacoima Junior High School students and five airmen and injuring 70 others.
Other Valley plane crashes:
- May 28, 1957: A plane crashes after taking off from Van Nuys Airport, killing the pilot.
- Jan. 21, 1956: A plane crashes near Eton Drive and Richard Street in Burbank, killing the pilot.
- Sept. 10, 1955: A plane crashes in Reseda after striking some power lines, killing the pilot and a passenger.
- Jan. 31, 1955: A plane crashes near Lockheed Air Terminal, killing three people.
- May 21, 1955: A plane crashes into a canyon in the Verdugo Hills, killing the pilot and passenger.