MIDWAY, Pa. — As federal investigators combed a charred ravine for clues to the crash of USAir Flight 427, the nation's worst air disaster since 1987, the Quicksilver senior golf tournament got under way Friday seven miles away in the rolling western Pennsylvania hills of suburban Pittsburgh.
"It makes playing golf so trivial," said Ed Sneed. "It's hard to put it in perspective, when we're playing a game and people have lost their lives and are suffering."
The crash was virtually the only topic of conversation for fans and golfers alike, and the galleries were uncharacteristically quiet as Ben Smith, a nonwinner in 11 years on the Senior tour, took the lead with a 69. One back are Jim Colbert, Ray Floyd and Bob Dickson.
USAir is a major employer in the small towns and boroughs that pocket the hills of suburban Pittsburgh, and it seemed almost every fan and volunteer knew somebody touched by the accident.
Jonathan Begley, a Quicksilver Golf Club assistant pro, got the scare of his life when he was told his father, Jim, was on Flight 427.
The elder Begley, an engineer for Hewlett-Packard, was booked on the flight, but was detained by a meeting in Chicago with his boss and took a later flight. His family's fears worsened when they didn't hear from him. Jonathan Begley said his father didn't call right away because he didn't know about the crash.