Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Service to honor 1950 plane crash victims to be held in South Haven

A memorial service for the victims of a 1950 plane crash in Lake Michigan will be held in South Haven on Wednesday. On June 23rd, 1950, Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 was lost over the lake after having left New York on its way to Washington state.

Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501 was a DC-4 propliner operating its daily transcontinental service between New York City and Seattle when it disappeared on the night of June 23, 1950. The flight was carrying 55 passengers and three crew members; the loss of all 58 on board made it the deadliest commercial airliner accident in American history at the time.

There was stormy weather at the time, and vanHeest says that the search originally started off Milwaukee. However, when a boater off South Haven found some debris, the effort turned to southwest Michigan.

The aircraft was at approximately 3,500 feet (1,100 m) over Lake Michigan, 18 miles (29 km) NNW of Benton Harbor, Michigan when it vanished from radar screens after requesting a descent to 2,500 feet (760 m). A widespread search was commenced including using sonar and dragging the bottom of Lake Michigan with trawlers, but to no avail. Considerable light debris, upholstery, and human body fragments were found floating on the surface, but divers were unable to locate the plane's wreckage.

Although the plane has never been found, although there are still yearly searches for it.

In September 2008, a researcher investigating the crash of Flight 2501 found an unmarked grave that she believes contains the remains of some of the 58 victims. Valerie van Heest says human remains from the June 1950 crash into Lake Michigan washed ashore and were buried in a mass grave. She claims they were buried in a St. Joseph-area cemetery without the knowledge of the victims' families, and the grave was never marked. In a 2008 ceremony at the cemetery with 58 family members of Flight 2501, a large black granite marker was placed that now lists the names of the 58 and the words.

Wednesday’s memorial will be at their South Haven grave site, at Lakeview Cemetery at noon. VanHeest will also give a two PM presentation on the disaster at the Michigan Maritime Museum.

Wednesday 24 June 2015


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