Kobe Bryant latest sports star to die in tragic aviation crash
Kobe Bryant dying in a helicopter crash Sunday at age 41 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna sent shock-waves throughout the sports world. It also conjured memories of other athletes who were also tragically killed in either plane or helicopter accidents. Here are some athletes who died in aviation tragedies.
On Aug. 2, 1979, Munson crashed while trying to land his Cessna Citation aircraft at Akron-Canton Airport. He suffered a broken neck as a result of the crash and died of asphyxiation at age 32. The other two passengers survived. Munson, a seven-time All-Star catcher, was in his 11th year with the Yankees, who retired No. 15 and dedicated a plaque in Monument Park to him immediately following his death.
Rescue workers inspect the wreckage of a plane crash in which Thurman Munson died.AP
Clemente was killed while on an emergency relief flight on Dec. 31, 1972 that he had arranged to help those affected by a massive earthquake in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. After learning that his first three flights had been diverted by Somoza government officials, Clemente decided to go on the fourth flight to ensure its arrival. The Douglas DC-7 cargo plane that he flew on had a history of mechanical problems and was overloaded by 4,200 pounds, ultimately crashing into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico due to engine failure. His body was never recovered, and all five people aboard died. The Pirates retired No. 21 in 1973 for Clemente, who was 38 years old.
While flying an ICON A5 amphibious plane, Halladay crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Nov. 7, 2017. Halladay was the only person on the aircraft. Air traffic control said they did not receive any mayday distress signals from Halladay, whose autopsy later revealed he had morphine, amphetamine and a sleeping aid in his system, along with a trace amount of alcohol. Halladay was 40 years old. The Phillies suspended use of Halladay’s No. 34 for the 2018 season to honor him, and the Blue Jays retired No. 32 on Opening Day of the 2018 season.
While flying a Cirrus SR20 airplane with his co-pilot/flight instructor, Lidle fatally crashed into an Upper East Side high-rise on Oct. 11, 2006. The plane was reportedly about to fly into restricted airspace before a strong wind blew the plane into the building. There were 26 others injured in the accident, many of whom were New York City first responders. Lidle, who was 34, was the third Yankee killed in a plane crash. The Yankees wore black armbands for the entire 2007 season in Lidle’s memory.
A Yakovlev Yak-42 charter flight carrying players and the coaching staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional ice hockey team of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League crashed during takeoff on Sept. 7, 2011. Forty-four of the 45 people on board were killed as a result of the aircraft overrunning the runway and striking an antenna mast before crashing on the bank of the Volga river. It was later discovered that the pilot had used falsified documents to earn permission to fly the aircraft, while the crew members lacked the training necessary to fly the aircraft they were on. Twenty-six players were killed, and former Ranger Alexander Karpovtsev, who was an assistant coach for Lokomotiv, was among those killed.
Russian rescuers and investigators work at the crash site of a plane with Russian ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in 2011.AFP via Getty Images
Returning from a game in North Carolina, a DC-9 domestic United States commercial jet carrying 37 members of the Marshall University football team, plus eight coaches, 25 team boosters and five crew members crashed into a hill outside of the Tri-State Airport on Nov. 14, 1970. The aircraft collided with the tops of trees before bursting into flames.
Wichita State football
More than a month earlier on Oct. 2, 1970, 14 Wichita State football players died when a Martin 404 crashed into a hillside near Silver Plume, Colorado. Thirty-one people died, including 14 players on the Wichita State football team, which was on its way to play Utah State.
The day before his 46th birthday, Marciano was a passenger in a small private plane crash on August 31 1969. Traveling to Des Moines, Iowa through bad weather in the middle of the night, the inexperienced pilot manning the plane tried to land but hit a tree two miles short of the runway. The pilot, Marciano and Lew Farrell, another former boxer, were all killed on impact.
Oklahoma State basketball
A Beechcraft Super King Air 200 carrying two players of the Oklahoma State basketball team, as well as six broadcasters and members of the coaching staff, crashed in a field outside of Denver, Colorado on Jan. 27, 2001. The crash occurred in the middle of a snowstorm on the way home from a loss to the Colorado Buffaloes. Oklahoma state has a memorial entitled “Remember the Ten” inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Enlarge ImageOklahoma State plane crash
An Adams County Sheriffs Department official, and a Bennet Fire Department firefighter inspect the 2001 plane wreckage outside Byers, Colorado in which members of the Oklahoma State basketball team were killed.AFP via Getty Images
While traveling from Florida to Texas for The Tour Championship on Oct. 25, 1999, Stewart was killed in a Learjet crash. The aircraft failed to pressurize and all on board died due to hypoxia, flying on autopilot until it ultimately ran out of fuel and crashed into a field in South Dakota. Stewart was 42.
All but one member of the 1977 Evansville basketball team died in a plane crash on Dec. 13, 1977 on the way to play a game against Middle Tennessee. The plane crashed on takeoff, with the National Transportation Safety Board blaming the accident on the pilot’s failure to remove gust locks on the aileron and the rudder before takeoff. The plane’s baggage compartment was also overloaded, which apparently played a part in the crash as well. The lone member of the team who did not die was David Furr, who was out for the season with an ankle injury and was not on the plane. However, two weeks after the crash Furr and his younger brother were killed in a car accident.
On Nov. 28, 2016, a charter flight carrying the Brazilian Chapecoense soccer team crashed near Medellin, Colombia. The team was on their way to compete in the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Finals before the accident, which killed 71 of the 77 people on board. The cause off the crash was said to be fuel exhaustion, due to a shoddy flight plan by the airline, and the pilot’s failure to declare an emergency and alert air traffic control after fuel levels became low.
Old Christians Club rugby
A chartered flight for members of the Uruguayan Old Christians Club rugby team, family, supporters and friends crashed on a glacier in the Andes mountains on Oct. 13 1972. Twenty-eight of the 45 people on board survived the crash and endured 72 days before 16 people were rescued. Faced with starvation, survivors resorted to anthropophagy. An inexperienced co-pilot mistakenly believed they had reached their destination despite instruments reading otherwise. The aircraft then struck the mountain and lost both its wings before crashing.
Hardin crashed his Beech 25-C33A in Key West, Florida on March 9, 1991 shortly after taking off. The propeller of his aircraft failed from fatigue and crashed despite Hardin’s effort to return to Key West International Airport to make an emergency landing. It was widely believed that Hardin, the one-time Yankee who died aged 47, steered the plane away from crashing into a nearby baseball field where young children were playing.