Tales from the morgue jet crash stunned tucson tucson history and stories from the star’s archives tucson.com electricity for refrigeration heating and air conditioning answer key

J. A. Eribe, —- S. Winstel Blvd., lives directly across from one home that was hit. He said he heard "a loud roar, and a terrific explosion." Before his family reached their windows, Eribe said they could see the fire racing in behind them.

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Sanchez said he saw "at least" six people inside the stopre, adding: "Those people didn’t have a chance." Sanchez dragged a hysterical mother from the store as she started to go back for her child. The spot where her child had stood was a searing fireball.

Firemen and city workers, under the direction of Tom Price, superintendent of the Sanitation Dept., loaded debris into five pickup and six dump trucks last night. Captain Franklin estimated that the men may not finish their mop-up operation until noon today.

Mrs. Victoria Steffania Palmer, 55, a clerk at Food Giant who had reported for work only five minutes before the crash, was identified by her husband, James, late last night at Bring’s Mortuary. She lived at —- Monthan Strav. and is survived by a son and two daughters.

The 4453rd maintains 50 F4Cs with 1,200 men — about a third of that number are training pilots undergoing courses of from four to eight weeks preparatory to Vietnam assignment. In addition, the 4453rd serves as a refueling stop for other training bases such as Nellis, AFB, Nev., home station of the plane that crashed last night.

The McDonnell F4 is used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines in Vietnam. The craft is capable of speeds of up to 1,400 m.p.h. and bomb loads exceeding six tons. It is capable of performing strike, reconnaissance, escort and high cover missions. It is 58 feet long. It is capable of carrying 5,900 gallons of fuel.

The field at D-M handles some 170,000 take-offs and landings per year. Col. Robert Ackerly, 4453rd commander, has estimated that approximately 85 to 96 F4Cs take off and land at D-M each day. D-M is called upon to manage an average two emergency landings per day.

D-M commanders have spoken of repeated efforts made to re-route the jets away from the Tucson residential district. But under weather conditions such as yesterday, regular patterns are altered and pilots controlled by the Federal Aviation Agency through D-M tower.

Mrs. Gay Dingle, of —- S. Baxter Pl., was heading out the front door to buy a head of lettuce at Food Giant when her telephone rang. She answered the call and chatted with a friend for some five minutes until the explosion occurred. "I would have been in the Food Giant, right there in the vegetable department when it happened of the phone hadn’t rung."

Mary Ann Heinlein, of —- S. Kitt Pl., and an employe in the meat department at Food Giant, finished work at 5 p.m., and went home. "Normally I stick around and talk to Robin Bush while she is cutting chickens back in the kitchen," she reported, "but I wanted to get home and then do some Christmas shopping. That’s why I wasn’t there with Robin when she died."

J.A. Uribe and his wife, Yolanda, who live at —- S. Winstel almost directly across the street from the demolished Tilton residence, were at home waiting for a TV repairman who had promised to work on their set by 4:30 that afternoon. "It was nearly 5:30 and he still hadn’t come and we were pretty upset. We planned to go to the laundry and then on to Food Giant for some shopping. If he had gotten here on time we would have been over there when the plane hit."

Even more frightening was the experience of Mrs. George Medina and her three children. Mrs. Medina was already at the shopping center headed for the market when they spotted Medina’s wrecker in front of a nearby store helping a stranded motorist.

"We stopped and talked to George for a few minutes, then went on to the Food Giant. Just as we entered the building the plane struck and flames came roaring at us from the rear of the store. We ran back out and I began looking for my daughter, Debbie, who had gone into the variety store next door. We finally found her. If we hadn’t seen George, we would all have been inside the market."

Mrs. Mercy Garcia, —- S. Winstel, does alterations for the laundry and dry cleaning unit in the shopping center. She had just finished a pair of slacks, but instead of taking them back to the laundry she decided to stay home and address Christmas cards. Her son, Raul, 17, was in the Garcia living room just seconds before the explosion rocked their home. But he had walked into their kitchen for a drink of water and was there when the plane came roaring down and a chunk of mortar came hurling through their front window and crashed into the chair where he had been sitting.

In response to a Star query, Corbett said that more work needs to be done to coordinate the efforts of city, county, Air Force and volunteer groups in handling disaster emergencies. But both Corbett and Cole praised the impromptu organization that had the crash scene nearly cleared before dawn this morning.

City Manager Roger O’Mara said that city departments have already been organized in a disaster plan that was fully utilized at the shopping center site. Cole said that a cooperative arrangement is being worked out between the Air Force and D-M with city police and fire departments.

Cole was asked why the crash scene was cordoned off by rifle-bearing air police for nearly an hour after the mishap. Cole explained that it was a precautionary measure taken by the Air Force in air crashes until it can be determined what armaments the crashed plane carried.

Taylor and three investigators arrived from Nellis within hours of the crash. Yesterday morning, a team of seven Air Force claims officers arrived from California and began assessing the damage and making door-to-door checks in the accident neighborhood.