Federal investigators moved the wreckage of the jet plane in which New York Yankee catcher Thurman Munson died into an airport hangar today for reassembly and sent its jet engines back to the manufacturer to determine why they apparently failed in flight.
Edward J. McAvoy, National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said a preliminary study showed that a power failure in the twin-jet Cessna Citation that Munson was piloting apparently caused the crash.
McAvoy said the jet power packs had been sent to a Cessna lab in Wichita, Kan., for examination. The wreckage was to be reassembled inside the hangar at the Akron-Canton Airport.
Jerry D. Anderson, a friend of Munson's who survived the crash along with flight instructor David Hall, said he was kneeling between the two men as the plane approached the runway.
He said the plane was getting low and slowing and Munson, who was at the controls, tried to increase power but the plane did not respond.
Anderson, who was in fair condition at Timken Mercy Hospital, also said the plane began to roll just before it crashed about 1,000 feet short of the runway.
McAvoy said Munson's wife, Diana, told investigators that Munson had been experiencing problems with the craft since he bought it July 6. McAvoy said the flight log and maintenance record were still intact and would be checked for evidence of any prior engine problems.
A. H. Kyriakides, Summit County Coroner, said today that Munson lived for about three minutes after the crash but apparently had struck his head and was knocked unconscious. He died of asphyxiation when flames used up the cabin's oxygen.
Anderson and Hall said they tried to rescue Munson after they escaped by kicking open an emergency door, but were driven back by the fire. Both men suffered burns. Hall was in satisfactory condition in Children's Hospital Medical Center in Akron.
Private services for Munson were scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday in Canton.
Yankee owner George Steinbrenner said the entire team will go to Munson's funeral. The Yankees are scheduled to play the Baltimore Orioles Monday night in New York.
"If we don't get back (in time for the nationally televised game), we don't get back. We'll forfeit."