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Teen Critically Injured After Falling From Sign On Back Of Plane

July 5, 1985

LOWER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ A 15-year-old was critically injured when he fell 100 feet from a banner being lifted by a plane in what one airport official termed was ″a freak accident.″

Keith Flanagan of Pleasantville, who worked for Astro Aerial Ads, was holding the banner at Cape May County Airport Thursday afternoon when his foot became entangled in a banner cable and he was swept up by a plane lifting the 75-foot-long sign, police said.

″Apparently there’s a procedure for the banner boys to hold the banner somehow when it’s picked up and apparently it snagged the boy’s ankle,″ police Capt. Don Douglas said.

Flanagan fell onto a grass field near the runway within seconds, officials said.

″I have 3,000 hours of banner towing and I have never seen anything like this before,″ said Ed Kotz, chief airport safety and security officer. ″It was a freak accident.″

Kotz said he could find no witnesses to the incident and later spoke with the pilot of the two-engine Champ-Citiba and the owner of Astro Aerial Ads.

″Everyone was devasted by it,″ Kotz said. ″The pilot said he did not know he was there. He did not feel it. He didn’t know anything was wrong back there.″

A message left with the Astro Aerial Ads company was not returned.

Flanagan was listed in critical condition early today at Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital in Cape May, said nursing supervisor B.J. Rasmussen.

He had multiple injuries to the head and neck as well as internal injuries, Ms. Rasmussen said.

Police and federal aviation authorities were investigating the accident.

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