i'd really think it neat to see these reports...wonder where else they could be found?
When platform shoes would do a world of good.
Well, this isn't the autopsy report - but it's the next best thing, since it describes all the injuries in graphic detail!
Lynyrd Skynyrd's legend is grounded in a plane crash that occurred on October 20, 1977, three days after the release of Street Survivors. A chartered Convair 240, N55VM, carrying the band between shows from Greenville, South Carolina to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed near a forest in McComb, Mississippi. The crash killed singer/songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray. Other band members were injured, some very seriously. Drummer Artimus Pyle crawled out of the plane wreckage with several broken ribs, but was ambulatory, as were road crew members Kenneth Peden Jr. and Mark Frank.
The three injured men hiked some distance from the crash site, through swampy woods, and finally flagged down farmer Johnny Mote, who had come to investigate. Varying accounts have Mote either firing a warning shot into the air or actually shooting Pyle in the shoulder - no report is completely reliable. Pyle claimed in a February 2007 appearance on Howard Stern's Sirius radio program that Mote had shot him; Mote has always denied shooting the drummer. Video of a barechested Pyle at the 1979 Volunteer Jam does not show evidence of a gunshot wound.
Medical personnel arrived and began to ferry out the injured and the dead. Allen Collins suffered two cracked vertebrae in his neck, and both Collins and Leon Wilkeson nearly had arms amputated as a result of crash injuries. Wilkeson suffered severe internal injuries, including a punctured lung, and had most of his teeth knocked out. Gary Rossington broke both his arms and both his legs in the crash, and took many months to recuperate. Leslie Hawkins sustained a concussion, broke her neck in three places and had severe facial lacerations. Mysteriously, security manager Gene Odom was seriously burned on his arm and face in the crash, which involved no explosion or fire since the plane was out of fuel. Victims were taken to the hospital in McComb, Mississippi by ambulances and other vehicles. Road crew member Steve Lawler, who suffered severe contusions and facial lacerations, was taken to the hospital in a pickup with a camper top.
Pianist Billy Powell survived but his nose was nearly torn off and he suffered severe facial lacerations. He later caused a controversy by giving a lurid account of Cassie Gaines' final moments on a VH1 Behind The Music special about the band, claiming that the backing singer's throat was cut from ear to ear and that she bled to death in his arms. Powell also claimed that Ronnie Van Zant's head had been smashed. Powell's version of events has been discounted by both Artimus Pyle and Judy Van Zant Jenness, who posted the autopsy reports on the band's website in early 1998 in order to set the record straight. Despite this faux pas, Powell has been on good terms with the remaining band members since the incident. Pyle did confirm (from Pyle's interview on the The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, Feb. 12, 2007) that Van Zant's cause of death was trauma to the head caused by equipment, such as Betamax tapes and Trinitrons, flying forward in the plane's cabin.
Notably, the third member of The Honkettes, JoJo Billingsley, was not on the plane and in fact was home tending to a family member's illness. She was planning to join the tour in Little Rock on October 23, three days after the crash. According to an interview in the book Freebirds, Billingsley had dreamed of the plane crash and begged Allen Collins by telephone not to continue using the Convair. On hearing of the accident, Billingsley was so shaken that some of her hair fell out.
The Convair 240 itself had been inspected by members of Aerosmith's flight crew for possible use in the early summer of 1977, but was rejected because it was felt that neither the plane nor the crew were up to standards. In an interview in the book Walk This Way, Aerosmith's assistant chief of of flight operations Zunk Buker tells of seeing pilots McCreary and Gray trading a bottle of Jack Daniels back and forth while Buker and his father were inspecting the plane. When Aerosmith's crew heard of Skynyrd's misfortune, they were shocked, but not necessarily surprised. Aerosmith's touring family was also relieved because the band, specifically Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, had been trying to pressure their management into renting that specific plane.
The official NTSB accident report reads, "The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of this accident was fuel exhaustion and total loss of power from both engines due to crew inattention to fuel supply. Contributing to the fuel exhaustion were inadequate flight planning and an engine malfunction of undetermined nature in the right engine which resulted in higher-than-normal fuel consumption." It was known that the right engine's magneto - a small power generator that provides spark and timing for the engine - had been malfunctioning (Powell, among others, spoke of seeing flames shooting out of the right engine on a trip just prior to the accident), and that pilots McCreary and Gray had intended to repair the damaged part when the travelling party arrived in Baton Rouge. It is possible that the damaged magneto fooled the pilots into creating an exceptionally rich fuel mixture, causing the Convair to run out of fuel. It was suggested on the VH-1 Behind The Music profile on Skynyrd that this was the case, or that the pilots, panicking when the right engine failed, accidentally dumped the remaining fuel. Pyle maintains in the Howard Stern interview that the fuel gauge in the older model plane malfunctioned and the pilots had failed to manually check the tanks before taking off.
Street Survivors became the band's second platinum album, and was the #5 top selling album on the U.S. album chart. The single "What's Your Name" reached #13 on the single airplay charts in January of 1978. Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded after the airplane tragedy. On the original pressing of the cover of Street Survivors was a photograph of the band engulfed in flames. MCA Records, out of courtesy, withdrew the sleeve and replaced it with a cover of the band striking a similar pose against a plain black background.
*(this was all courtesy of a Bebo.com blog I found)*
JUSTICE FOR CAYLEE
Rest in peace sweet baby Caylee. The world loves you and will see to it that you get the justice you deserve.
Aries you totally rock! Thanks for the info.
If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?
Hag O' Death
Nice on the drummer, what a sick effer.
I did not know VanZandt was married twice and had a daughter with each wife.
pyle always gave a little of a creepy vibe in interviews, no wonder!
When platform shoes would do a world of good.
just another good ol' southern boy .............................
That smell is my fav too. Everyone asks for Freebird.
Lynyrd Skynyrd were on the way down when Steve Gaines joined the band and boy did he put some life into them.
i'm still curious as to the real account of cassie gaines and steve gaines injuries/death...was billy powell telling the truth? What happened to steve, I cannot find anything saying.
When platform shoes would do a world of good.
Great trivia! Good job!
I cried for shoes .... til I met a man with no feet.
Does anyone have it? I heard that it was online about ten years ago.
You can buy on eBay THE complete NTSB report. It gets into very clinical details about flight crews' injuries and gives a decent explanation for each of the passengers injuries.
and of course..... I'm sitting here wishing that there were pictures........ it's amazing that anyone survived
Got anything on Otis Redding's plane crash? I lived very close to his residence in Macon, Georgia...and many people think he perished in the crash. This may not be exactly true. The plane crashed into a large lake in Wisconsin, and Otis Redding actually drowned (or froze to death) in the lake. Several members of the Bar Kays also lost their life on that flight.
there is a death pic of him on buddy holly dropped in page
Ok so the only pics I've ever seen are of the plane. Does anyone know if there are any pics of the scene just after the crash, with the victims, or no? I'm curious. I'm actually a huge Steve Gaines fan, and I've heard what kind of condition Ronnie Van Zandt was in (I heard just a small bump behind his ear and a broken leg?) and I've heard Cassie Gaines basically had her throat cut open (awful), but I've never heard anything about Steve except he was found at the bottom of a huge pile of debris/luggage. Anyone got anything?
Also, here's a link to a really good vid. This guy was actually on the plane.
good post-thanks :-)
There is a Skynyrd thread here somewhere, where people were looking for the kinds of pics you are. I am gonna search, but I don't think anyone was able to come up with anythinf, if memory serves !
What fresh hell is this ? ~ Dorothy Parker
Sorry, no pics here.
I saw those guys in concert just a few weeks before the crash.
Really good show.
There's an interesting recap of the injuries and some graphic descriptions of what happened to the pilots here.
Any doctors here who can decipher the herniation talk?
People always wonder about the autopsys. They have an incredibly detailed breakdown on the flight crew. Not to get into blood gasses and toxicology (they were clean) but here's what killed McCreary the pilot:
"Multiple compound and comminuted skeletal fractures; ruptured spleen; perforating wound of jejunum; lacerations of liver; perforated left hemidiaphragm; evulsed left common carotid artery, marked cerebrellar tonsil herniation, multiple perforating woulds of lung bilaterally"
"Multiple compound skeletal fractures; multiple lacerations pf liver; ruptured spleen; superficial lacerations of aortic intima at T7-8 area; marked cerebrallar tonsil herniations, compression fracture of T7-8 vertebrae"
In terms of the passengers, they have it laid out so you can see where everyone was seated on a chart. There was a J shaped couch up front that had Allen, Ronnie, Dean Kilpatrick and Kevin Elson on it. The order of the first three is not for sure. Elson was in the last seat, facing inward and with some kind of dividor between him and the center cabin. Across from them was a small table with two seats. Steve Gaines was in seat 5 facing backwards and Gary Rossington was in six at the table, facing forward.
With all of the passengers, the report is detailed about their injuries. Allen Collins had a cervical spine injury. Kevin Elson had atelectosis and fractures of right leg and ankle, pelvis and left leg. Gary Rossington had fractures of the right and left arms, right leg and pelvis.
All it says in terms of those killed was that "a visual gross injury examination of the four fatalities was performed at the Catching Funeral Home and Hartman Funeral Home in McComb,Mississippi. The examination revealed that the three passengers who had been seated in the forward compartment recieved fractures of the lower extremeties and head impact injuries; one passenger also recieved crushing chest injuries. The fourth fatality (this would be Cassie, folks) had been seated in the center compartment and recieved a fracture of the right lower extremty and a small puncture wound in the left temple area."
The center compartment (she was in seat 13) was three rows of four seats. She was on the aisle on the left side in the middle row. Literally right in the middle of the compartment. On her left in the window seat was William Sykes (compound fracture of the left humerus) and across the aisle James Brace got a fractured left arm, pneumothorax (chest wound) and abrasions.
Paul Welch was in the aisle seat immediately in front of her and was unconscious for over 100 hours with head injuries and Artimus was directly behind her on the aisle with "multiple abrasions and contusions"
The six seats in the back compartment were at two tables and that's where Gene, Craig Reed, tour manager Ron Eckerman and three other crew were. All of them in the back got pretty badly beaten up. Lots and lots of broken bones.The front compartment and the back were clearly the worst to be at. Cassie just got hit by something. Just really really really crappy luck. She was over the wing in a fairly decent location.
There's also a report from an xray tech at Southeast Medical Center and what he shot on each person that night, ie: Leslie Hawkins - thoracic spine, cervical spine, lumbar spine, skull, pelvis, arm, both femurs, shoulders.
He concluded "The patients moved fast through the department and no problems were encountered. By 2:30 am all surgery x-rays were finished and cleaned up was under way"
Great post Aries. So that report says nothing about Cassie's throat being cut. Wonder if it's true then. I've seen the video where Powell recounts her last minutes and if he made all that up then he's one sick puppy. I really don't see why he would though, ya know?
Anyways, I wanted to share a link and some trivia for you guys~
I have a Steve Gaines music myspace page that I've had for a while. See, I live about 5 minutes away from Steve & Cassie's hometown of Miami, OK. Steve was in a band called Crawdad for quite a while right up until he joined Skynyrd. Crawdad's drummer, Ronnie Brooks, was a good friend of mine/my boyfriends. (his son is the durmmer in my bf's band). Anyways, Ronnie has shared a lot of their recordings with us over the years along with stories and such about the band. They were GREAT. So I took it upon myself (with Ronnie's permission) to make a page where people can listen to some of their music. It's great stuff. I have the original version of "I Know A Little" on there. Did yall know Steve wrote that song way before Skynyrd?
Pretty cool stuff if ya ask me.
Anyways, the page is at http://www.myspace.com/stevegainesfan
I actually have a cd of the last gig they ever did before Steve joined Skynyrd, it was on July 4, 1976. The last song they did was Saturday Night Special, and it's really eerie in a way because before the song Steve talks about how if Skynyrd doesn't hire him that he "ain't losin a thing".
there was a book out some years ago by a guy who was on the plane and he said Cassie's throat was cut as well...can't remember the name of the book now...I may have mentioned it in an earlier post...anyways I will look for it and see if I can find it on amazon..I will know it when I see it....yeah I am old and semi-senile LOL
I wish someone would fix the band's name in the title of this thread. It just looks so disrespectful being spelled wrong. A true fan would know the right way...
My main recollection from the time of the Skynyrd crash was actually something from a week later. For those of you who've never read Billboard magazine, they are (or at least were) prone to do tribute issues dedicated to a major event or anniversary or whatever. A huge chunk of the issue is taken up with ads people take out to 'commemorate' the event. What they really do is advertise themselves. The typical ad will say something like <5 inch letters> Flushmore Bowles <next line, 3.5 inch letters> wants to congratulate <next lines, 2 inch letters> Karl Klutz <last line, 1 inch letters> on his anniversary.
After the Skynyrd crash, Billboard did a tribute issue. Almost all of the ads followed the format listed above. Except one. That one literally brought tears to my eyes. The first line, with the typically large type, said, "Thank you, God, for saving Ronnie's band." The next line, in somewhat smaller type, said, "Words alone can not express our sorrow at the loss of Ronnie, Steve, Cassie and Dean." In tiny letters at the very bottom of the ad was the name of who took out the ad. If I remember correctly, it was another Southern band.
You don't encounter class like that every day.
Talk about a band that should have hung it up decades ago..... They still tour but I believe according to the bands bi-laws there must be at least 3 original members for the band to still play.
Journeys Infinity album has a LONG speech about the bands sorrow over Skynyrds loss in the liner notes.