15 May 1949
Sunday morning 15 May 1949 was
a beautiful sunny May day. I was 12
years old at the time and lived on Cherry Island 3/8 of a mile west of the point
of Horse Island. From this location
it was routine to see the PBY’s landing
on the Detroit River. I saw the
plane land and stop, suddenly I realized that the plane was sinking and many
boats were coming out from Horse Island and Gibraltar.
One of the boats was the white cruiser “Bobbi – Jo” belonging to
Casimir Slowinski of Horse Island.
PB4Y-5A Buno 34014 was engaged in routine water landing practice on the
Detroit River with a crew of nine aboard. The
pilot was Lt.(jg) Michael N. Zelenock, 26 and the copilot was Lt.(jg) William J.
O’Brien, 28. As the plane landed
just south of Horse Island the left wing-tip float hit an obstacle in the water
and the plane “Water Looped”.
The two pilots and five enlisted men crawled out on the right wing which
remained above the water. Two
additional enlisted men were trapped in the wreckage.
They were AA Frank E. Hayes, 18, son of Mr. and Mrs.Frank E. Hayes of
Dearborn and FN Rudolph G. Jaworski, 22’ of Carleton.
Attempts to chop through the fuselage to save the men were futile.
Casimir Slowinski took four surviors off the wing in a short time with
William F. Dennison AD2, 42 was injured in the crash.
He could not make it to the cruiser.
Two men put him in a rubber raft and started for the cruiser, but the
current was carring it down stream until Bernard Parvin towed it with a motor
boat to the cruiser. Dennison was
taken to the Veterans Hospital in Dearborn where he was treated for a broken leg
and a skull injury.
In the late afternoon only the sun could be seen reflecting off the wing.
John P. Sanger, LT USNR Ret.
14 May 2000
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Revised: June 30, 2010