HILL, Robert (c. 1931-1970), 39, was killed with his friend, Clarence Nurmi, when they were hit in their boat by a landing seaplane at Avalon Harbor on January 10, 1970.
In the News~
January 11, 1970 [OPC]: “Two Die as Boat, Plane Tangle Near Catalina. Avalon, Calif.— Two men were killed Saturday when their 16-foot inboard powerboat crossed the path of a seaplane which was landing in the harbor at Santa Catalina Island. The Federal Aviation Agency investigating the tragedy near this port city of Santa Catalina Island, which lies about 22 miles west of Los Angeles in the Pacific. Harbor Patrolmen recovered the bodies of Robert Hill, 39, Corona Del Mar, and Clarence Nurmi, 45, of Newport. Neither the pilot of the twin-engine Grumman Goose, Capt. Jackson Hughes, 45, not his two unidentified passengers were injured. Hughes told investigating sheriff's deputies he didn't know if the plane hit the boat or if the wake of the landing plane swamped the craft, according to FAA Regional Duty Officer Bob Watmore. The plane, flying a regular shuttle flight from the mainland to the island, was not severely damaged, Watmore said. The FAA said the plane was operated by the Catalina Air Lines division of Golden West Airlines. Harbor Department spokesman here said the 16-foot boat had its bow caved in and added that its seats and other onboard accessories were damaged.”
January 11, 1970 [Independent Press-Telegram, Long Beach]]: “Strange Avalon Crash. A bizarre collision between a 19-foot runabout boat and a Catalina Airlines seaplane just outside the Avalon breakwater killed two Orange County men and damaged the plane Saturday. The pilot of the plane, who feared the gash in his craft's hull would take in water, flew back to Long Beach Airport with his two passengers. Killer were Robert Hill, 36, of 2809 Bayside Drive, Corona Del Mar, and Clarence Narmi, 45, of 2043 Westcliff Drive, Newport Beach, who were returning to Avalon after a scuba-diving expedition. Avalon Sheriff's deputies, recovered their bodies from their badly smashed but still-afloat vessel shortly after the 3:30 p.m. accident. The two victims were approaching the Avalon harbor breakwater when the plane—going in the same direction—almost landed on top of them, deputies said. The pilot, Capt. Jackson Hughes, 45, of Laguna Beach said he was making a normal landing outside the breakwater and didn't see the boat. He said he made a sharp right turn and heard the top of the boat hit the hull of his plane. Hughes said he lifted his craft into the air, circled Avalon and returned to Long Beach. The pilot of another aircraft told the Federal Aviation Administration in Los Angeles he saw the boat and plane collide when the boat suddenly rose atop a four-foot swell. Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, dispatched immediately to investigate the accident, returned to the island Saturday night with Hughes. A spokesman for the Catalina Airlines Division of Golden West Airlines, operators of the twin-engine Grumman "Goose" sea-plane said the accident was the company's first in 16 years of operation. "This incident occurred in an area that's normally reserved for seaplanes," said J. W. Letzkus, vice president of Golden West. But he believed the landing area outside the breakwater used by seaplanes is not marked. "To my knowledge, they haven't marked it," he said. "The people on the island normally seem to be informed of it." Bodies of the two dead men were taken to the avalon Hospital morgue. The couple who had chartered the seaplane caught another plane to Avalon after returning to Long Beach Airport.”