Stephen Baltz

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Stephen Baltz (Jan. 9, 1949 – Dec. 17, 1960) was the only person to initially survive the crash of United Airlines Flight 826 after the DC-8 jetliner on which he was a passenger collided with a TWA Constellation airliner on December 16, 1960, in a snowstorm over Staten Island. The 11-year-old boy from Wilmette, Illinois, was flying alone to meet his mother and sister, who had flown to New York the day before; his father was due to join the family on a later flight. The family was planning to spend Christmas in Yonkers with relatives. Upon the United jet's impact with the ground, Stephen was thrown from the plane into a snowbank, where local residents rolled him in the snow to extinguish his burning clothing. Though alive and conscious following the crash, the boy was badly burned and suffering from burning jet fuel aspiration. Stephen died the next morning of pneumonia, caused by his lungs having been seared by burning jet fuel, at Park Slope's New York Methodist Hospital. The hospital staff had been unaware of this life-threatening condition which was later revealed at autopsy. A plaque was installed in the hospital's chapel in memory of the victims of this air disaster; part of the plaque contains sixty-five cents in blackened change from Stephen's pocket.

During the week of 13 December 2010, to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, The New York Times ran a series of articles recollecting the incident.


  • Pillar of Fire - Interview with Dorothy M. Fletcher by Nathaniel Altman
  • Fate or fluke? Air crash sole survivors by Barry Neild for CNN
  • Wendell Jamieson (March 24, 2002). "The Day the Boy Fell From the Sky". The New York Times.
  • "Park Slope Plane Crash". The New York Times. December 12–16, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2010.

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