Airplane crash into lake

On Friday, June 29, 1951, a twin-engine Grumman Mallard plane crashed into Lake Erie about four miles off the shoreline of Geneva-On-The-Lake.

David Hennesy, of Augusta, Ky., perished in the crash. He was trapped inside the wreckage, which was under 40 feet of water.

The co-pilot, Eugene D. Stafford of Akron, and Ted Migdal, were rescued but suffered injuries. Stafford suffered a fractured right ankle and lacerations of the right arm and forehead, as well as multiple abrasions and contusions.

Midgal, the pilot, suffered from shock, contusions of the back and possible chest injuries.

Leonard Gaetano, who owned a speedboat rental at GOTL, headed up the rescue. He was assisted by John Zimmerman of GOTL, Jack Williams of Struthers, Curtis McDonald of Farrell, Pa., and Charles Petrosky of Duquesne, Pa.

Witnesses said the plane flew low over the water in an attempt to land. The pilot attempted to pull the plane back up, but it went into a stall and plunged into the lake.

In a Geneva Free Press news report the following day, the co-pilot recalled the final seconds of the flight:

Eugene D. Stafford said this morning at Geneva Memorial Hospital that the pilot was making a practice landing near the Geneva-On-The-Lake shore before continuing to Toronto to pick up two passengers.

“The plane bounced two or three times before it nosed into the water,” Stafford said. “I think I must have crawled out through the window on my side.”

Unable to remember all the details of the accident, Stafford added, “I looked back into the cabin when we crashed but I could not see him (Hennessy). I think he must have been trapped in the plane.”

…”It seemed like I was in the water for a half hour,” Stafford went on to say. “I was very exhausted when I was pulled out of the water.”



Our guests remember:

Pirl Beach

I spent the summer of 1942 in Pirl Beach (at age 16) and worked part time for the manager pulling weeds and such. Also swam every day. My Pittsburgh relatives had reserved a cottage there for many years. My aunt and cousins stayed. My uncle commuted weekly in his Buick. The Pirl Beach manager used a Model T Ford truck for his chores.

Ken Ford

Memories of Ford's

Most of my summer childhood memories are at Ford’s! My parents met there right at the picnic table. We vacationed there every summer along with my grandparents and great aunt and uncle until they passed away. We made amazing friends there that we still vacation with on Putnam Drive!! I could never thank the Payne’s enough for my childhood memories. Playing Indians in the huge back yard, solving make-believe mysteries, playing release and listening to everyone playing penny poker when my sister and I should have been sleeping. I now bring my son to Geneva every summer. He is the 5th generation at Geneva!

Sara Turner Campos

Chestnut Grove

My extended family and I vacationed at Chestnut Grove from 1948-1964. Being from McKeesport, it was a dream come true to go there every summer. I currently live in Michigan but go back occasionally. Not too long ago, I found a post card of some of the cottages where the swings and horseshoe pit were and a local artist is making me a 24×36 painting of it. I can't wait to see it! So many wonderful memories and so few things left as reminders. It is nice to know that others still remember and care.

Michelle Turner ( a Chestnut Grove Kid)


We vacationed every summer at Idle-A-While in the late '50s and early '60s, partially because my aunt was the receptionist there. I often got to ring the bell summoning guests to breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room, which was staffed by co-eds from various universities. Evenings were spent playing bingo, fascination and other games on the strip or bridge and poker back at Idle-A-While. Great memories.
John Bloom

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