Haverhill, MA. – November 9, 1975

Haverhill, Massachusetts – November 9, 1975

     On November 9, 1975, a twin-engine Grumman Widgeon amphibious aircraft was attempting to make an emergency landing on the Merrimack River in Haverhill, when, as one witness later told reporters, it “hit the water like a ton of bricks.”  The force of the impact tore the nose off the plane, and then the aircraft flipped over onto its back and began to sink. 

     The crash occurred less than a mile from the Groveland-Haverhill Bridge.

     John Walsh, 40, and Robert Eskel, 27, witnessed the crash from the boat yard of Abbott’s Marine Services less than one-hundred yards away.  The two of them ran to the riverbank and set out in a small rowboat towards the overturned airplane which was now starting to drift downriver in the current.

     The only persons aboard the aircraft were a 33-year-old father and his 4-year-old son.  Both had suffered broken legs and facial injuries. 

     When Walsh and Eskel reached the plane they pulled the boy aboard as the father clung to its side.  The added weight brought the boat lower in the water.  The airplane sank moments later.     

     Just after Walsh and Eskel had reached the victims, another amphibious aircraft came down and landed in the river and motored over to the boat, and the father was taken aboard the aircraft.

     Meanwhile, Ray Abbott, the owner of the boatyard, arrived on the scene with a motorboat and took the rowboat in tow to shore.  

     The man and his son were transported to a medical facility for treatment.

     It was reported that the Widgeon aircraft was one of 250 built  by Grumman Aircraft for the U.S. navy during WWII, and was worth about $65,000.  


     Boston Globe, “Pilot, Young Son Pulled From Merrimack After Crash”, November 11, 1975

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Father, Son, 4, Rescued After Plane Sinks”, November 10, 1975

     Boston Herald American, “Father, Boy Saved As Plane Crashes”, November 10, 1975

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