The EvansvilleBoneyard

The Day Santa Claus Died in Evansville

On the afternoon of December 9th, 1967 Christmas excitement and anticipation of Santa's arrival turned to horror before a crowd of over 1000 as a helicopter delivering Santa Claus to the North park Shopping Center struck power lines and crashed to the ground killing the man playing Santa and the pilot.

Police witnesses said the helicopter circled the shopping center once before making an approach from the north to the south.

In a split second the helicopter touched the power lines with the top blades and tried to back out and hit the wire a second time and then crashed.

To some it seemed like a firework display to herald the arrival of Santa.

Several spectators rushed to the scene to help. Children cried and parents rushed them from the area.

The helicopter's battery was hurled from the craft when it hit the power line. The battery flew through the windshield of an unoccupied car and exploded, showering fragments.

Electricity in the northwest section of the city was off for three hours .

Killed in the crash was William C. Bretz, who had for many years played Santa for children at Christmas time. Bretz, along with his wife Lorena,served as greeters at St. Paul's United Church in Christ in German Township.

Also killed was the pilot, William Dorr, who was the owner of Crescent Aviation and President of the Indiana Aviation Training Association.

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