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July 12, 1949: Wreckage of Standard Airlines C-46 is examined following crash killing 35 passengers and crew. Fourteen survived.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

July 12, 1949: Krishna Venta, left, self-styled "Christ" who maintains a monastery in a stone house near crash scene, and Brother Paul, one of his disciples, give aid in carrying one of the victims to ambulance. They also helped search for dead.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

July 12, 1949: The broken line in this LA Times illustration published on July 13, shows the path of the C-46 after it first hit the hillside to its final resting place. The Los Angeles Times art department made this illustration from two photos shot at the C-46 crash scene. The final illustration was copied onto 4 x 5 film - a common photo lab tech duty.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

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July 12, 1949: The battered fuselage and wing section of a C-46 Standard Airlines passenger plane lies on a mountainside near the Chatsworth Reservoir after it crashed, killing 35 people. Fourteen survived. The plane, which took off from LaGuardia Airport in New York, was bound for Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank.

The Times reported that shortly before the crash, a fist fight had broken out between two men on board. Survivors later said the fight was not the cause of the crash and that the pilot was flying too low.

One survivor, actress Caren Marsh, was interviewed by the Times:

Miss Marsh, who received severe cuts and possible internal injuries, said she was in a daze immediately after the crash.

“I heard screams and a fire crackling,” she said. “I knew my leg hurt and I just lay there sort of numb.

“Then I remember a woman grabbed my arm. She was wonderful. I heard her say:

” ‘Let’s get out of here.’

“She dragged me out of the plane and into the brush. I don’t know who she was and I don’t think I could recognize her if saw her again.

“I shudder to think what might have happened to me if she had not stopped to lend a hand. I don’t think I could have gotten out otherwise.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that arriving ambulance crews were met by an unusual group of helpers:

Many were startled, as they neared the crash scene, to see solemn, bearded, coarse-robed men waving them on.

The volunteer traffic officers were disciples of Krishna Venta, self-styled “Christ,” who maintains a monastery in a stone house in Box Canyon only a few hundred yards form the disaster scene.

Krishna Venta and one disciple, Brother Paul, wearing and brown and blue robes, respectively, worked actively to extricate the victims’ bodies. They strode unflinchingly across the rock-strewn terrain in their bare feet.

In a 1999 interview, Caren Marsh remembers her brief encounter with Krishna Venta:

After climbing out of the wreckage, she said she thought for a moment she had died because men in long robes were walking around her. Angels, perhaps.

But the bearded and barefoot men in old newspaper photos of the crash were Krishna Venta, a leader of a monastery in nearby Box Canyon, and one of his disciples, Brother Paul. Both had rushed to the mountain to help victims.

Tomorrow: Actress Caren Marsh’s life since the crash.

Friday: Krishna Venta dies in 1958 bombing.

1 Comment

  1. January 27, 2011, 11:43 am

    […] of Standard Airlines crash survivor Caren Marsh-Doll taken fifty years apart. On July 13, 1949, actress Caren Marsh, left, is […]

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