Archived Story

Cassopolis man victim in Indiana’s deadliest plane crash 50 years ago

Published 3:10pm Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cassopolis Vigilant

It was one of the deadliest plane crashes in Indiana history.

On March 17, 1960, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 710 heading from Chicago to Miami crashed in Millstone, Ind. All 63 passengers and crew members died, including a Cassopolis man, Jay Harold Sunderlin.

To honor the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, a memorial service is scheduled March 13 at 2 p.m. at the memorial of the crash site. A reception will follow in the Cannelton Community Center. A worship service will take place March 14 at the Schergens Center in Tell City, Ind.

The Perry County Museum in Cannelton, Ind. and the Tell City Historical Society Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days to allow people to learn more about the crash and its victims.

Sunderlin, 61, was on his way to Florida to meet his wife, Marian, at their Palm Beach winter home. He was the president of Radio Equipment Co. Inc. in South Bend and also served as a director of the First Bank and Trust of South Bend.

The crash was horrific. The aircraft fell apart in mid-air, scattering the engine, wing and other parts across a two-mile area. The plane was estimated to have been traveling nearly 600 miles per hour as its fuselage struck nose first into a bean field. It was later discovered that a weakness in the outer engine supports caused the accident.

The crash was significant not only in the history of Millstone but the entire country, according to Tell City-Perry County Library genealogist Evelyn Lasley. People from 13 different states in the U.S. and people from Canada and Japan were on board, leading to a significant amount of media coverage.

“We’ve run into an amazing amount of people asking about the crash,” she said. “We have had relatives of those aboard contact us or pilots who flew the same type of plane. We decided we really needed to do something to make the country aware that we have not forgotten the victims.”

The memorial and worship services are open to family members and friends of the victims as well as the general public. For more information on the crash or the services, call the Tell City-Perry County Library at (812) 547-2661.

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