Archive for Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rockne crash witness dies

January 31, 2008

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— James Easter Heathman, who was 13 when he raced to a field near his family's central Kansas farm to find the plane crash that killed legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne, has died. He was 90.

Heathman died Tuesday at an Emporia hospital, where he had been for about a week after contracting pneumonia, said his son, Tom Heathman.

Tom Heathman said Wednesday that his father had been taking people to the crash site, located on private land near the Heathman farm, for about 20 years. He said his father gave the free tours because he wanted to honor Rockne, who at 43 was at the height of his career at the time of the March 1931 crash.

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