As the radio announcer read the list of passengers who didn’t survive the crash of Flight 349, high school senior Curtis Sheffield braced for his oldest brother’s name. Instead, the announcer got to the end of the list and intoned, “and a passenger listed only as ‘Sheffield.’
“I could hear my mother screaming, ‘My baby. My baby.’ If I live to be 200,” says Curtis Sheffield, “I could never forget that.”
Louis Otis Sheffield was one of seven children who hailed from the Virginia city of Colonial Heights, south of Richmond, but was living in Fresh Meadows, Long Island, New York at the time of the accident. A 1951 graduate of Randolph-Macon College, Sheffield served four years in the Navy and was working as representative for the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company, now Westvaco, at the time of his death, according to the Progress-Index.
“He traveled quite a bit,” says his youngest brother. “He was sort of a trouble-shooter for the company.”
Ironically, for one who made so many business trips, it was pleasure travel that put him Flight 349. He was on his way to Martinsville, Virginia, to meet up with his wife, the former Ruby Smith, and her family. His wife went to the Roanoke airport to meet him but found herself meeting instead with harried officials from Piedmont Airlines.