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The Early Lead
Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 09/08/2011

Russian KHL hockey team jet crash is latest tragic crash to devastate sports world


A woman lights a candle as she pays respect to the victims of the Lokomotiv team plane crash at the Old Town Square in Prague. (DAVID W CERNY - REUTERS)
The Russian Yak-42 that crashed near Yaroslavl on Wednesday nearly wiped out the entire Lokomotiv ice hockey team. News of the crash, which killed 43 of the 45 people on board including all but one hockey player, devastated an international hockey community still grieving the losses of several NHL athletes this offseason.

But sadly, Lokomotiv is not the first sports team to suffer a disastrous crash. Here’s a quick look back...

Feb. 6, 1958 — Manchester United was on its way back from Belgrade, where the soccer powerhouse had qualified for the European Cup semifinals, when the British Airways plane carrying the team burst into flames shortly after taking off from Munich-Riem Airport. Twenty of the 44 people on board died in the crash and three more died at the hospital. The plane had stopped in Munich to refuel. After failing in two attempts to take off, the pilots tried once more, this time with slush building up at the end of the runway. The plane never took flight, and instead crashed through a fence, lost its wing when it smashed into a house and then exploded after barreling into a wooden hut filled with fuel. Eight Manchester United players and three members of the team’s staff died as a result of the crash.

Oct. 2, 1970 — One of two Golden Eagle Aviation planes carrying the Wichita State University football team to a game at Utah State crashed into a mountain eight miles west of Silver Plume, Co. Of the 40 people aboard the plane, 29 died at the scene and two more died later from injuries sustained in the crash. The pilot of the “Gold” team plane that crashed deviated from the initial flight plan for a more scenic route while the “Black” team plane did not alter its route and arrived safely. The “Gold” plane was overloaded and therefore unable to ascend high enough to clear the mountains. Survivors of the crash said most of the passengers survived the initial impact of the crash but an explosion in the passenger cabin trapped those unable to evacuate immediately.

Nov. 15, 1970 — A chartered Southern Airways flight carrying 37 members of the Marshall University football team along with coaches and boosters, crashed into a hill near the Huntington Tri-State Airport in Ceredo, W.Va. The Thundering Herd was returning home from a game against East Carolina in Greenville and had taken off from Stallings Field in Kinston, N.C. The flight crew attempted a difficult landing through rain, fog and smoke, but was given clearance to land before it collided with tree tops on a hillside just short of the airport runway. The plane burst into flames, killing all 75 people aboard and burning the bodies of six individuals so badly they were never identified.

The flight was the only one Marshall was scheduled to take to an away game that season and the crash was the first for Southern Airways in its 21 years of operation.

Oct. 13, 1972 — A chartered plane carrying the Uruguayan national rugby team players crashed in the Andes, killing 16 of the 45 people on board. Eight more died when an avalanche hit the wreckage, leaving 16 people stranded in the mountains for 72 days before rescuers finally arrived. With no food available to them, the survivors resorted to eating the bodies of the deceased, which had been frozen in the snow. It took Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa 10 days to hike across the mountain range where they finally found a Chilean horseback rider who alerted authorities of the location of the remaining survivors. Thirty members of the Old Christians Club rugby union team from Montevideo died in all.

Oct. 6, 1976 — Two time bombs exploded on a Cubana Flight from Barbados to Jamaica carrying 78 people including the 24-member 1975 Cuban fencing team fresh off a gold medal sweep at the Central American and Caribbean Championship. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing everyone aboard who had not already died from the explosions. Four anti-Castro Cuban exiles were arrested in connection with the terrorist attack and in 2005 CIA documents were released indicating the agency had advanced evidence of a planned attack on a Cubana flight.

The Vancouver Sun has a more extensive list of notable sports tragedies including crashes that killed members of the U.S. boxing and figure skating teams, the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo football team and the University of Evansville basketball team.

More from the Lokomotiv team jet crash:

Video: Rescue crews arrive at the scene of the crash

Photo gallery: Photos from aftermath of the crash

Early Lead: NHL players react to the tragedy on Twitter

Video: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pays tribute at crash site

Montreal Gazette: Plane crash puts hockey world in shock

Russian ice hockey vows to help rebuild Yaroslavl team

Lokomotiv coach Brad McCrimmon, former NHL player, remembered

By  |  12:15 PM ET, 09/08/2011

 
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