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.
Today, 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.
“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.”