"Freezing weather gripped much of the East Coast on January 13, 1982, when Flight 90 took off from Washington's National Airport with 79 passengers and crew members aboard. The plane was scheduled to stop in Tampa, Florida, and continue on to make its final landing in Fort Lauderdale.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the captain and crew's reactions to the icy conditions outside put the plane in jeopardy. It failed to get airborne enough to clear the 14th Street Bridge, where it slammed into seven occupied vehicles, killing four people. Then the plane lurched into the Potomac where it sank quickly into the ice-strewn river, leaving only the tail section afloat for survivors to cling to. Only six passengers were not killed on impact. A blizzard slowed rescue efforts as icy roads and traffic jams kept emergency vehicles from reaching the scene.
Several crash witnesses responded in heroic fashion when they dove into the waters to help the survivors. …One man in the water that day was Arland D. Williams, Jr. As rescuers frantically threw lines to survivors, Williams continually handed off the ropes to others.
When rescuers returned a final time to scoop Williams to safety, they found he'd disappeared under the water along with the sinking tail section of the plane. His body was later recovered. In all, 78 people died that day, including the four killed in the vehicles. Five survived the crash and its aftermath."