Originally published Sept. 25, 1972
The joyous celebration of a children's birthday party ended in screams of terror yesterday afternoon when a F86 Sabre jet slammed into Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant on Freeport Boulevard, killing 22 persons, including one family of four and nine members of a second family.
In addition to the dead, there were 24 persons injured in the crash. Nine are still in the hospital.
Property damage was estimated at $500,000.
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“It took the whole wall where the 17 children were seated and just pushed it in,” said one witness. At least 100 persons were in the building at the time.
The tragedy occurred at 4:25 p.m. at the end of the third annual Golden West Sport Aviation Air Show at nearby Executive Airport. The restored Korean War jet lost power on takeoff, scraped across an embankment at the end of the runway and slid across Freeport Boulevard near 35th Avenue, crashing into a passing car, killing both occupants.
The car was pushed into the parking lot at the Crossroads Shopping Center, and the jet rode over another parked car and smashed into a third. Two cars and the jet slammed into the party room at the southeast corner of Farrell’s where the 17 children were seated by the big front window.
The pilot of the plane, identified as Richard Bingham, 36, of Novato, escaped with a broken arm and broken leg. He is general manager of Spectrum Air, a Marin County firm, Bingham was listed in satisfactory condition in the Sacramento Medical Center.
Tragic as the accident was, if could have been worse, The wing tanks carrying thousands of gallons of fuel wither were dropped or ripped off the plane before it got to Farrell’s.
Marvin Boghosian of 2306 J St. was watching the takeoff through a 105 millimeter camera lens.
“About the middle of the field he brought the nose up. I don’t think his rear wheels ever got off the ground.
“He went straight into the berm of the levee at the end of the runway. I couldn’t tell whether the wing tanks were dropped or broke off when he hit the levee, but right there, on the airport side of Freeport Boulevard, is where the big ball of fire was.”
Sacramento County Coroner George L. Nielsen said 12 of the victims were children, five boys and seven girls. Five women and five men were also killed.
The list of dead carried the names of four couples, both husband and wife dead.
All four members of the Walter Warren Krier family of 8700 Merribrook Drive – Walter, 32; his wife Sandra, 28; daughter Jennifer Ann, 8; and son Brandon, 2, were killed.
Also killed were nine members of another family – Gene Lavine, a city fireman in his late 40s who recently moved to Sacramento to 5630 Cinderella Lane, Auburn; his wife, Margaret, 48; their son-in-law and daughter, Anthony and Susan Martin of 7329 Idelwild Way, and three of their four children: Sean, 3, Jeanene, 4, and Gregory, 6, and two other Lavine grandchildren, Gary Nash, 2, and Jeff, 5. Their daughter Chris Nash, 23, is in critical condition in Sacramento Medical Center and the Lavine’s third daughter, Cynthia, 12, is in satisfactory condition.
Steven Martin, 8, 7329 Idlewild Way, Sacramento, in satisfactory condition in Sacramento Medical Center, is the sole survivor of the Anthony Martin family.
Witnesses inside described a tremendous explosion when the plane hit.
Harry Rice, a clerk, was working behind the ice cream counter.
“I looked up and debris was flying at me,” he said. “There was some panic. Everybody was running, but it wasn’t like everybody went crazy.”
Richard Baraconi., who was in the store with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, said there was “a tremendous explosion.
“I looked to the right. The front of the store, everything was in flames.”
Most of the dead were found near the tables at the front window which looks out on the end of the shortest of the runways.
Barbara Fine, an employee at a fabric store near Farrell’s, said she was looking out the window when what looked like a plane wing ricocheted off the roof of the ice cream parlor.
“Then there was an explosion with a ball of flame at least 10 feet across. It was just huge,” she said.
She grabbed three bolts of muslin from the store and ran into the parking lot and bgean to bandage people.
“People were in shock. They were just pale and standing around like they couldn’t believe what had happened. Others were looking for their children andtrying to reunite their families.
“One child I was comforting was burned very badly on her feet and legs. She was quite frightened so I tried to stay with her as long as I could.”
Ana Camacho, 18, of 420 22nd St., was in Farrell’s with two sisters and friend.
“We were just casually talking. I was looking at a mirror on the wall and I saw a reflection of a fire.
“I looked and I thought, ‘That’s a pretty color.’ Then I thought it was going to explode. But I thought ‘that’s impossible.’
“Then there was smoke and I heard a lot of screaming, desperate screaming . . . people were jumping all over the tables to get out.”
She and the other three made it out with only minor cuts and bruises.
Cliff Johnson of 5971 Lake Crest Way was seated on his bicycle across the street watching the show plane takeoff.
“It looked like he was coming in awfully close to the end of the runway,” Johnson said. “His tail kept dragging. I remember thinking it was a toss-up whether he could make it over the buildings.
“He came back down, hit the embankment and went into the building.
“Only a few seconds before there was a big line of traffic where the plane crossed Freeport Boulevard. But the light changed and there was a break in the traffic. That was a miracle to me.
“I could really feel the heat. It billowed out in flames as far as the street when it exploded.”
One witness said a man with wire cutters ran to the flaming red, yellow and blue jet and cut the pilot loose. The witness said the pilot cried over and over, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
The business of clearing away wreckage continued long after dark. Police used wreckers to pull the plane form the building. It was then they discovered the cars beneath it – welded together by the impact.
Two bodies were found inside one of the cars.
Coroner Nielsen said some of the victims were burned, but many others were crushed or cut. Identification was difficult because there were no fingerprints on record for the children.
Today, heavy sheets of plywood were nailed over the windows of the store known as “The Happy Place.”
Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant was one of the sponsors of the air show.
Death list is issued
Her is a list of the 22 killed yesterday in the crash of the vinatge jetfighter at the Crossroads shopping center in south Sacramento:
Walter Warren Krier, 32, 8700 Meribrook Drive, account executive with Mitchum, Jones and Templeton stockholders.
Mrs. Sandra Ann Krier, 28, wife of Walter Warren Krier.
Jennifer Ann Krier, 8, and Brandon Krier, 2, children of the Kriers.
Leo C. Warram, 49, 5638 San Vincente Way, North Highlands, an electronics technician at McClellan Air Force Base.
Mrs. Ellen R. Warram, 50, wife of Leon C. Warram.
Louis Jugum, 43, 5440 Shelly Way, Carmichael, systems analyst, California Western States Insurance Co.
Eliane Jugum, 10, daughter of Louis Jugum, student at Del Dayo Elementary School.
Mancy Keys, 12, a student at Arden School, and her sister, Sally Keyes, 14, a student at El Camino High School, both of 1701 Ladino Road, cousins of Elaine Jugum.
Anthony R. Martin, 29, 7329 Idlewild Way, owner of Morey’s Letterman emblem shop.
Mrs. Susan Martin, 28, wife of Anthony Martin.
Gregory, 6, Jeanene, 4, and Sean, 3, children of Mr. And Mrs. Anthony Martin.
Gene Lavin, Auburn, father of Mrs. Anthony Martin.
Mrs. Margaret Lavine, 46, mother of Mrs. Anthony Martin.
Jeff Nash, 6, and Gary Nash, 2, 3661 57th St., nephews of Mr. And Mrs. Anthony Marin and grandsons of Mr. And Mrs. Gene Lavine.
Kristin Francis, 4, Stockton.
Joan Bacci, 29, 739 Los Felice St., Stockton, whose husband and five children were injured.
Nancy Rodriquez, 8, 8727 Fallbrook Way.