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Officers Seek Fliers' Bodies

Eight are Believed Dead in Bomber Crash Near Signal Mountain

Fort Collins Express Courier, October 20, 1943

Headed by Sheriff Ray M. Barger, a score of men, including Army officers and soldiers from Lowry field, left here at 5 a.m. today to reach the rugged 11,000 foot northeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National park where an Army Flying Fortress bomber crashed and burned Monday night, carrying at least five and perhaps eight fliers to their deaths.

The sheriff's party planned to enter the nearly inaccessible area four miles west of Signal mountain in the region of the Mummy range, by horseback from the John Derby ranch, just north of the crash scene along Pennock creek.

Following the sheriff at noon today were two other officers from Lowry field, who arrived to survey the crash and determine plans for salvaging the wreckage.

Five Bodies Found

Five bodies were discovered late yesterday by Vernon Spencer and Chris Hyatt, both ranchers, who entered the area following early reports that a plane had crashed and while Lowry field scouting planes flew overhead to sight the wreckage. Authorities withheld names of the fliers pending official notice to their families.

Lowry field officials announced today that eight men were on the plane, a B-17 bomber, enroute to Denver from the Rapid City, S.D. Army air base.

Started a Fire

Besides the Army, Air force officers and soldiers, the sheriff's party today included Ranger Norman Griswold of the Roosevelt National forest office here and Deputy County Coroner L.E. Butler of Loveland.

Barger said the plane's crash set a small forest fire in the timbered region. The fire was reported controlled, however, by a Forest service crew led by Chief Ranger J. Barton Herschler from the Buckhorn ranger station, several miles northeast of the crash.

Heard Explosion

Probably the only person to hear the bomber as it flew toward the fatal mountain slope was Mrs. Albert Chandler, living at the Rockwell ranch about 7 miles north of Signal mountain. She reported at 10:15 p.m. Monday that a plane flying extremely low passed over the ranch. Shortly afterward she heard a violent explosion, but neither she nor her husband were able to locate the fire from the explosion.

Early yesterday ranchers farther south spotted a smudge and Spencer and Hyatt began their trek to the scene.

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