1986 Aeromexico crash rained horror from the sky in Cerritos

first_imgThe National Transportation Safety Board later determined that the air traffic controller was too busy to see the radar blip of the small plane as it blundered into commercial airspace. Moreover, Kramer’s plane lacked a transponder that would have alerted the control tower that it was at 6,500 feet, the same altitude as the Aeromexico jet making its final descent into LAX.“The planes just went straight into each other,” witness Cindy Gillespiecq testified during a 1989 trial to determine liability for the crash. “No one seemed to swerve or anything.”Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabecq, then mayor of Cerritos, recalled seeing thick plumes of black smoke wafting into the sky as he left church services that day. He presumed the new post office was on fire.He walked into his house to the sound of the phone ringing, a sheriff’s deputy calling to say he was on his way to pick up the mayor. Two planes had crashed into a middle-class neighborhood less than a quarter-mile from Knabe’s home, and his help was needed.At the same time, Knabe’s wife turned on the television and started screaming.“In Cerritos, we had plenty of money, 26 parks,” Knabe recalled recently. “Things like this aren’t supposed to happen.”Authorities established command centers as firefighters extinguished fires on Holmes Avenue, Ashworth Place and Reva Circle. Aided by residents, coroners’ officials began the grim task of recovering bodies from the smashed homes and twisted fuselage.“Bodies were everywhere,” Richard Santanacq said at the time. “There’s debris everywhere, pieces of people everywhere. There was nothing I could do but help cover up the bodies.”John O’Neillcq ran out of his Reva Circle home after he heard an explosion.“It was absolute total destruction,” he said then. “There are pieces of the engine all over. My backyard is a mess. My house is covered with pieces of you name it.”For Knabe and other city officials, the days, weeks and months following the accident were spent orchestrating cleanups, reaching out to victims, resolving to rebuild.Mental health officials went door to door, searching for people still cowering inside their homes in fear or in survivor’s guilt, Knabe recalled.The city loosened construction codes to facilitate rebuilding. The incident highlighted the necessity of disaster preparedness and mutual-aid agreements, Knabe said.In the aftermath, 70 lawsuits were filed over the accident. They were consolidated into a single federal suit that led to a $56.5 million payout to plaintiffs in 1989.A jury absolved Aeromexico of wrongdoing, finding the FAA and Kramer equally to blame for the tragedy.Two years later, the FAA began requiring equipment called Mode C transponders on small planes near busy airports. The equipment broadcasts a plane’s position and altitude, giving controllers data instead of just blips.The FAA also required commercial aircraft to be equipped with traffic alert and collision avoidance systems. And it consolidated radar centers and reconfigured LAX flight paths to keep small planes away from jetliners.The Cerritos neighborhood eschewed a memorial near the crash site, but the city’s sculpture garden now features a monument – a marble-and-granite piece symbolizing the 64 people who died aboard the jet, the three on the small plane and 15 on the ground.The abstract, free-form shapes evoke wings, flying, weightlessness and release, the city’s Web site stated.But while much of that neighborhood has changed, the people who lived through the day when fire and shrapnel rained from the sky haven’t forgotten.“It’ll never be normal – never,” Cerritos resident Randy Economycq said days after the crash. “The emotional scars are there too badly. When I take a walk here at night, that’s all I think about: the horror of seeing bodies flying, the screaming, and myself, helpless to do anything.”[email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre A single-engine plane piloted by a Rancho Palos Verdes man had clipped the tail of an Aeromexico jet about to land at Los Angeles International Airport. In a recent interview, Tom Doty recalled how he and his family watched in shock as the jet turned belly-up, then streaked past the left wing of their Piper Comanche in its nose dive to Earth.Seconds later, an inferno erupted as the DC-9 jetliner crashed into homes where residents had been enjoying a lazy Labor Day weekend. The badly damaged Piper Cherokee fell onto the vacant playground at Cerritos Elementary School, where classes were set to start just a few days later.The disaster destroyed nearly a dozen homes and killed 82 people – including 15 on the ground, the most ground fatalities of any U.S. aviation disaster.It also prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to impose stricter safety requirements for both commercial and private aircraft to avoid a recurrence of the tragedy.With his wife and daughter aboard, 52-year-old William Kramercq was flying the four-seater Piper Cherokee from Torrance to Big Bear when he cross paths with the Aeromexico jet piloted by Arturo Valdez-Promcq. Johnny Dotycq leaned forward from the back of the four-seater plane soaring 5,500 feet over the sprawling suburbs of Los Angeles.“Dad, is that airplane going to crash?” he asked.“Yes,” Tom Doty, then a Redondo Beach police lieutenant, calmly answered from the pilot’s seat. “They don’t fly so good without tails.”It was just before noon on Aug. 31, 1986, and the Doty family – 11-year-old Johnny and his parents, Tom and Janet – had just witnessed what would become one of the nation’s worst aviation disasters.last_img read more

Violence by rival gangs cited in son, dad slayings

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsAuthorities believe four teens killed Luis on Nov. 14 in a case of mistaken identity. Luis’ father ran after the alleged gunmen and was fatally shot as well. Three of the suspects were in custody Friday in connection with the slayings. Citing the teens’ ages, authorities declined to release the names of the Baldwin Park residents, all 17, who are accused of the killings. A fourth suspect – Omar Mendez, 17, of Baldwin Park – is still at large and considered a fugitive. “We believe the motive of the crime is gang-related,” said Michael Rodriquez, a sergeant with the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The night of the shooting, family members say Luis walked out to his father’s truck to grab some tools. Witnesses told police two men then approached Luis and were talking with him before Luis was shot. After the gunfire, Luis’ father ran outside and saw his son lying near the sidewalk. Pedro Estrada began running after the suspects, chasing them about four homes up the street before he was also shot. Luis died at the scene. His father died at a nearby hospital. Rodriguez would not divulge any further details surrounding the killings but did say that all four of the suspects were there at the time. Of the teens, all – except Mendez – are suspected gang members from two nonrival Baldwin Park gangs. Mendez is believed to have ties to one of those gangs, Rodriguez said. But a third, rival gang is also involved, according to authorities. Rodriguez said he believes there were several altercations between the rival gangs in the days leading up to the Estrada slayings that may have triggered the shootings. That includes an incident outside of North Park Continuation High School the same day Luis and his father were killed, and an unreported shooting a day before at a nearby park. Authorities did not want to release the names of these gangs for fear it might spark more violence. “We believe (all) this carried over into that evening when the two victims were shot,” Rodriguez said. Authorities believe the suspects were out to shoot someone from the rival gang. Instead, they came upon Luis, who was mistakenly targeted, Rodriguez said. He declined to publicly say who the intended target was. An e-mail sent last month from a man claiming to be Luis’ older brother stated that, “All I want people to know is that my brother was not a gang member.” All four suspects – who attended North Park Continuation High School – have been charged with murder with a special gang allegation, Rodriguez said. Two of the teens were arrested Thursday afternoon – one at his Baldwin Park home and the other at a relative’s house in Ontario, Rodriguez said. A third teen was already in custody at a Los Angeles juvenile facility. He was arrested two weeks ago on a parole violation, Rodriguez said, adding that he did not know what prior convictions that suspect had. As a helicopter flew overhead Thursday night, detectives knocked on the door of Mendez’s Francisquito home to make the final arrest, but the teen wasn’t there. “The mother and father said they did not know where he was,” Rodriguez said. “We find that hard to believe. (Mendez) doesn’t have a job, his vehicle has been impounded for evidence and he has no means of supporting himself.” Police believe family members may have assisted Mendez – who is a member of the National Guard – in fleeing to another state or to Mexico. Rodriguez said that two days after Mendez was questioned, his family put their house up for sale. A Remax realty sign can be seen hanging from the family’s balcony. Mendez enlisted with the California National Guard on June 4, according to Lt. Theresa Chrystal, a Guard spokeswoman. The private had completed basic training and was awaiting technical training, she said. Now, the guard’s criminal investigation division is assisting in finding him. “I am very pleased to see that (some of) the people who committed this horrific crime have been captured,” Cruz said. Students at the school are still recovering from the deaths, he added. “I think the wounds are still there,” he said. “This is more than just kids losing a friend.” Officials say gang violence in Baldwin Park has steadily decreased over the decades. “I can remember 15 years ago it was common for groups of gang members to be walking down busy streets,” said David Reynoso, a lieutenant with the Baldwin Park Police Department. “That’s not around anymore.” Mayor Manuel Lozano – who could not be reached for comment Friday – has said in the past that despite the recent violence, Baldwin Park is still a safe community. It is difficult to say whether gang violence in any city where gang members live can be completely eradicated, Reynoso said. And nowadays, it’s hard to draw the line, Cruz said, considering that teens grow up in the same neighborhoods as gang members. “There are ongoing feuds,” Rodriguez said. “Is it a gang war? That’s something the media does. Gangs we know historically are going to fight with rivals. Sometimes it’s just a fight, but other times they pull out guns.” Anyone with information on the shootings can call (323) 890-5500 or (626) 960-1955. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BALDWIN PARK – The family of a son and father gunned down in front of their home moved to Mexico shortly after the two were buried, friends said. A worker was seen Friday painting the inside of the now-empty Downing Avenue home where Luis Estrada, 14, and his father, Pedro “Pepe” Estrada, 40, lived before they were killed by suspected gang members. A woman, who asked not to be identified but described herself as a friend and former co-worker of Luis’ mother, said the grieving widow and her two other sons left for Mexico about a week after the slayings. Luis Cruz, principal of Baldwin Park High School, where Luis was a freshman, said the mother thought that would be the best thing for the family. last_img read more

A quiet Convention expected as Donegal GAA prepares for annual meeting

first_imgTHE 2016 Donegal GAA Convention appears set to be a straightforward affair – at least in terms of the election of the County Executive.There will be just one contest for positions at the top table – for the two Ulster Council Delegate posts.Pat Connaghan has completed his term, meaning there will be a new face elected there. PJ McGowan, the other incumbent, will be running again, as will, it seems, Pat Walsh (Bundoran), Liam McElhinney (St. Michael’s), Mick McGrath (Aodh Ruadh), David Kelch (N Conaill), Brendan Kelly (Convoy), Grace Boyle (Termon) and Denis Ellis (N Columba).It is not certain that all of them will leave their hats in the ring when the votes are being asked for this afternoon at the Abbey Hotel, Donegal town.County Chairman Sean Dunnion (pictured) has a free run for a fifth and final year in the top seat, while Frankie Doherty (Vice Chairman), Aideen Gillen (Secretary), Declan Martin (Assistant Secretary), Cieran Kelly (Treasurer), Paddy Tinney (Assistant Treasurer), Ed Byrne (PRO), Seamus Ó Domhnaill (Central Council Delegate) David McLoone (Development Officer) and Fergus Mac Aoidh (Oifigeach Gaeilge agus Cultúir) will all retain their portfolios without opposition.Anthony Harkin has served his time in the Coaching Officer’s role and Connaghan’s time as one of the Ulster Council delegates is also up. St Mary’s Convoy clubman Conor McDermott will be the new Coaching Officer, taking over from Harkin in that role.A quiet Convention expected as Donegal GAA prepares for annual meeting was last modified: December 10th, 2016 by Chris McNultyShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Donegal GAAlast_img read more