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Park Slope plane crash: 49 years later

Baltz memorial

Baltz memorial Photo Credit: Rolando Pujol

A tribute to Stephen Baltz, who briefly survived the Park Slope jet crash. (Rolando Pujol)

Many Park Slope residents have no idea a horrific plane crash occurred in their neighborhood on Dec. 16, 1960, 49 years ago Wednesday.

Two commercial aircraft collided over the city, one barreling into a Staten Island field and the other into busy Park Slope, at the intersection of Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue.

The collision killed everyone aboard both planes, as well six people on the ground in Park Slope, including people selling Christmas trees. A total of 134 people died.

In the Slope crash, Stephen Baltz, 11, of Illinois, was for a brief time the only survivor, and the city hoped he’d pull through. The boy was found in a snowbank but later died at nearby New York Methodist Hospital.

The hospital’s Phillips Chapel has a memorial wall display featuring the pocket change — five nickels and four dimes — the boy was carrying. At the scene, there was considerable damage. A church, Pillar of Fire, was destroyed.

Today, there are still subtle reminders. The bricks atop 126 Sterling Place do not match the rest of the building, Adrienne Onofri points out in her book “Walking Brooklyn.” The new brick is a physical reminder of the repairs required.

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