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.”