Otis Redding crash
Ben Cauley was the survivor.
On December 8, 1967, Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays flew in Redding's twin engine Beechcraft plane to Nashville, Tennessee for three weekend gigs and used that city as a base to commute to additional gigs.
The following day, December 9, they took the Beechcraft to Cleveland where they appeared on Don Webster's 'Upbeat' TV show with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.
Later that same evening they played at a popular Cleveland club, Leo's Casino.
It was on December 10, on their commute to Madison, Wisconsin, that the men would meet their fate.
At 3:28 in the afternoon, the plane carrying Otis Redding, his valet, and the majority of the Bar-Kays crashed into the icy waters of the Squaw Bay area of Lake Monona, just outside of Madison. Bar-Kays bassist James Alexander had taken a different flight as there was not enough room left on Redding's plane. Cauley, who was sitting directly behind Otis Redding in the co-pilot's seat, had fallen asleep on the flight clutching his seat cushion.
He awoke when he realized he could not breathe.
He said that he then saw band mate Phalon Jones look out of a window and say "Oh, no."
Cauley then unbuckled his safety belt which ultimately allowed him to separate himself from the wreckage. Other victims, including Redding, were found still attached to their seats.
As the impact tore a wing off the small Beechcraft, the fuselage was torn open and Cauley was able to bob to the surface as he clutched his seat cushion.
While bobbing and trying to swim to his band mates who weren't able to free themselves from the fuselage, Cauley witnessed their cries for help before they were pulled under the frigid water.
A nearby resident of Lake Monona heard the crash and called the authorities who responded quickly with a police boat.
Approximately 20 minutes after the crash, Cauley was pulled into the police boat, suffering from hypothermia and shock.
According to Jet magazine, which interviewed Cauley and the authorities who assisted in the rescue attempt, the rescue divers could not be in the water for more than 15 minutes at a time due to the freezing temperature of the water. Madison Police Inspector John Harrington was quoted as saying that a person without insulated SCUBA gear "wouldn't live longer than 20 or so minutes" in the icy water.
When asked why he survived, Cauley told Jet, "I guess God was with me."
Cauley says he still suffers from nightmares.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Cauley
A somewhat different version herehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otis_Redding
Wiki says he tried to continue performing.
He mentioned issues from the crash and not performing for some time.
It was all very touching.
He spoke so highly of Redding, also of Memphis, and still grieves.