Last remaining survivor of the Hindenburg disaster dies at 90

LACIONIA, New Hampshire -- The last remaining survivor of the Hindenburg disaster, Werner Gustav Doehner has died at age 90.

Doehner was the only person left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived the May 6, 1937, fire that killed his father, sister and 34 others.

As the 80th anniversary approached in 2017, Doehner told The Associated Press he and his parents, older brother and sister were returning from a vacation in Germany on the 804-foot-long zeppelin to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.

As the Hindenburg arrived, flames began to flicker on top of the ship. Hydrogen, exposed to air, fueled an inferno.

"Suddenly, the air was on fire," Doehner recalled.

Doehner said his mother threw him and his brother out of the ship before she left, too.

"We were close to a window, and my mother took my brother and threw him out. She grabbed me and fell back and then threw me out," he said. "She tried to get my sister, but she was too heavy, and my mother decided to get out by the time the zeppelin was nearly on the ground."

His mother had broken her hip.

"I remember lying on the ground, and my brother told me to get up and to get out of there," he recalled. Their mother joined them and asked a steward to get her daughter, whom he carried out of the burning wreckage." Doehner said.

He would remain in the hospital for three months before going to another facility in New York City in August for skin grafts.

The U.S. Commerce Department determined the Hindenburg disaster was caused by a leak of the hydrogen that kept the airship aloft. It mixed with air, causing a fire.

"The theory that a brush discharge ignited such mixture appears most probable," the department's report said.

Doehner was born in Darmstadt, Germany, and grew up in Mexico City.

He and his wife of 52 years, Elin, moved to Laconia in May 2018.

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