B-25 bomber collides with the Empire State Building
We are in 1945, at the end of World War II. This Wednesday, July 28, is a typical day for young elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver, who goes to her workplace as usual in the prestigious Empire State Building. Despite the gray sky and foggy conditions, the 20-year-old did not imagine that she was about to experience the worst day of her life.
That day, a B-25 bomber was on a routine mission to transport troops from Massachusetts to New York. Pilot William F. Smith, an experienced captain, took on some of the most dangerous missions of the war. But upon his arrival in New York, the fog greatly reduced his appearance. Smith then contacts LaGuardia Airport to request a landing permit. In the face of bad weather, the watchtower advises him to wait some longer, but he ignores the recommendation and begins a perilous descent that leads him toward midtown Manhattan. The pilot then attempts to recover, but as he is confused by the fog, he realizes too late that he is flattening the skyscrapers. Without warning, the bomber ended up hitting one of them: the plane crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, the world’s tallest building at the time.
A horrific tragedy claimed the lives of two crew members, 11 people inside the building and the pilot himself. Rescue teams did not find Smith’s body until two days later, as he was ejected from the plane on impact and ended up in an elevator shaft. Moreover, at the time of the crash, some elements of the aircraft broke down and damaged the elevator cables on the ground. The latter immediately made a free fall to crash into the basement. Betty Lou Oliver happened to be in one of the elevators.
The crazy story of Betty Lou Oliver
In the middle of the action, the young woman had an accidental head-on shock. The seriously injured arrive, suffering from severe burns and injuries, to be rushed to the hospital. Despite a broken pelvis and spine, Betty survived. But, everything happened very quickly: the elevator cables, in which the stretcher was, were left, and Betty Lou suddenly fell from 75 floors. The firefighters must have thought they could not survive such a trip. However… the miracle happened.
While she was doomed to certain death, she barely survived. The impact caused the elevator cables to loosen. Fortunately, they wrapped themselves around the cage creating a kind of spring that was able to cushion the fall in extremes. Coincidence or fate? One thing is for sure, these simple little details will save his life.
The young survivor of the tragedy will live for more than half a century. She even entered the Guinness Book of Records as the woman who survived the longest elevator fall in history.
Betty Lou died in Fort Smith, Arizona on November 24, 1999 at the age of 74.