St. Petersburg Times – February 21, 1975
By Bill Cryer
The body of professional wrestler Bobby Shane, 29 was recovered from the wreckage of a small airplane that crashed early Thursday morning in Tampa Bay.
Wrestling commentator Gordon Solie said Shane’s foot was pinned in the wreckage. Three other wrestlers, including Buddy Colt, holder of the Title North American Champion, were able to swim to shore after the pre-dawn crash.
Shane’s real name is Robert Shoenberger. He lived in St. Louis, MO.
Recovering from injuries received in the crash are Colt, 39, who received a shattered foot, possible back injuries and cuts and bruises in the accident. Dennis McCord, 27 who broke both ankles in the crash and Gary Williams (aka Playboy Gary Hart), 32, who suffered severe facial cuts, and a fractured wrist.
Solie said that Colt, whose real name is Ronald Reed, was the pilot of the aircraft, a single-engine Cessna 182. He said the wrestlers had taken off late Wednesday night from Opalaka Airport after they had finished their matches in Miami.
The plane was to have landed at Tampa International, but Solie said bad weather forced them to try Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Island.
“He (Colt) was unfamiliar with the landing area and made one pass but was too high to make a landing,” Solie said. “He then went into a bank to go around for another pass and the plane went into a stall, which was compounded by headwinds, nosed over and went into the bay,” Solie said.
He said Colt “just exploded right out of his safety belt” and escaped from the airplane as it sank in about 15 feet of water 300 yards from shore.
McCord squirmed out of a safety harness he said, and the two along with Williams managed to swim to shore. Solie said Williams crawled to a nearby house to summon help. When the rescuers arrived, Solie said, the injured wrestlers were attempting to lower a small boat into the bay to begin a search for their friend.
A Tampa General Hospital spokesman said all three men were in satisfactory condition, but under heavy sedation Thursday afternoon.