Two Brooklyn memorials to one 1960 plane crash

Newspaper headlines described a horrible scene. “Air crash rains death on city” screamed the New York Daily News on December 17, 1960.


At 10:30 a.m. the day before, two passenger planes heading to LaGuardia collided over New York City.

A TWA airplane from Dayton, Ohio came down on Staten Island. A United DC-8 from Chicago hit the ground at Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue in Park Slope.


The final death toll of what was then the city’s worst air disaster would reach 134, including six victims in Brooklyn who were going about their day when the TWA craft plunged out of the sky.

AircrashstephenbaltzToday, Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue has long been cleaned up, though a few signs of the destruction of the crash remain. There’s no memorial at the intersection—but there are two not far away in Brooklyn.

One honors an 11-year-old boy who survived the initial crash. Stephen Baltz (left) was flying on his own to join his mom and sister in Yonkers, where they were planning to spend Christmas.

Baltz was badly burned, but he survived through the night before dying at Methodist Hospital up Seventh Avenue the next morning.

Inside the hospital’s Phillips Chapel is this understated plaque, above. “Our tribute to a brave little boy” it reads, next to the bronzed dimes and nickels Stephen had in his pocket. His parents put them in the hospital donation box after he died.

AircrashdailynewsIn Green-Wood Cemetery, a newer memorial marks the burial site of the bodies burned beyond recognition in the fiery aftermath of the crash.

“In an era before DNA identifications were possible, three caskets of ‘Fragmentary Human Remains’ were filled from the Park Slope crash site and were buried in a grave in lot 38325 that was purchased by United Airlines,” according to Green-Wood Cemetery.

Fifty years later in 2010, a granite memorial went up on the site. Inscribed on it are the names of all the victims.


Nearby a bronze and granite stone poking out of the grass simply says, “In this grave rest unidentified remains of victims of the airplane crash in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, December 16, 1960.”

[Top photo: Brooklyn Public Library/Irving I. Herzberg; third photo: New York Times; fourth photo:]

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3 Responses to “Two Brooklyn memorials to one 1960 plane crash”

  1. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    I was a child when this happened but can remember the network TV news report. There was a photo of the little boy, laid on a dirty snowbank at the street-side crash site. The mortally wounded child told people (who gathered to help him) he was ‘a Methodist Sunday School boy.’ A photo of a passerby – a woman – holding an umbrella to keep the snow from covering the child – is especially vivid.

    The New York Times did a review-feature of this saga not too long ago, The readership who recalled the tragedy and were moved to write, was impressive. This was a shocking event and the plight of a lone child engraved the story into everyone’s memory.

    The coins from the lad’s pocket being put into the Hospita’sl Donation Box is heartwrenching; Then, for these same coins to have been affixed to the memorial plaque is ‘the end to a tragedy’ no screenwriter could have more perfectly authored.

    I believe the America-of-back-then, fell in love with that child. It was a kinder, more gentle time when praying for strangers was a common thought…

  2. F.L. Says:

    no need to publish comment or write back – slight typo – “In this grave ARE rest “

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Ah, thank you! Fixed.

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