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Small Plane Crashes Kill 12, Including Seven In Arkansas

November 19, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Small plane crashes in New York, Texas and Arkansas killed 12 people, including seven who died when a twin-engine plane crashed as it tried to land in a heavy thunderstorm in Batesville, Ark.

In addition, lightning struck a TWA jetliner 50 miles from Little Rock, Ark.’s airport Friday, and a huge fuel spill at San Francisco’s airport forced delays and diversions for hundreds of flights.

Roger Williams, a dispatcher for the Independence County Sheriff’s Department in Arkansas said the Beechcraft King Air turboprop ″had made one approach and missed the Batesville airport and they were attempting a second time″ when it crashed just after 6 p.m. Friday, about 12 miles west of the airport. The remote crash site is some 90 miles northeast of Little Rock.

The flight originated at Orange, Texas, outside Houston, said Wayne Beckmann, duty officer at the Federal Aviation Administration’s southwest regional office in Fort Worth.

Arkansas was under a flash flood watch when the crash occurred during a heavy thunderstorm.

″The weather was about as bad as you can get,″ Williams said. ″The officers at the scene said it was raining, and so foggy you couldn’t see the ground.″

The identities of the victims were not immediately released.

Elsewhere, three people were killed when a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza apparently lost power shortly after takeoff from a Shirley, N.Y., airport, authorities said. The plane had reached an altitude of about 200 feet before it crashed near the Brookhaven Airport on Long Island, said Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman.

In Fort Worth, Texas, two people were killed when their single-engine Cessna 150 crashed on a highway near Meacham Field.

The TWA jet, en route to Little Rock from St. Louis with 76 passengers, was struck by lightning about 50 miles from the Arkansas airport, authorities said.

″There was a large bolt of lightning, almost like a white, yellow flash,″ said James Earl Wilson, a passenger on the DC-9. ″It seemed almost immediately like we lost some power. I was concerned that maybe the engine went out.″

TWA spokesman Don Morrison said lightning struck the plane’s left wing about 10:30 a.m., damaging a metal section that controls elevation. The jet landed safely at Little Rock about 26 minutes later, Morrison said.

Passengers on the plane were shaken but unhurt.

At San Francisco International Airport, hundreds of passengers faced major travel delays through this morning after a broken jet fuel pipeline disrupted more than 200 flights.

Many incoming flights were diverted to a half-dozen airports throughout the West Coast, and some departing flights were delayed several hours, said airport spokesman Ron Wilson.

Contractors broke a 12-inch underground fuel line near the TWA terminal about 4:30 p.m. Friday , effectively shutting off supplies to all three terminals, Wilson said.

Fuel service was restored about two hours later to most of the airport, said Jennifer Donohue, of the airport’s public affairs department. Delays were expected to continue through this morning.

Update hourly