Coalinga, CA Chartered DC-3 Airliner Crashes, Jan 1948

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32 KILLED IN FRESNO AIR CRASH.

28 MEXICANS BEING DEPORTED MEET DEATH.

DC-3 AIRLINER LOSES WING, CRASHES, BURNS ON WAY SOUTH.

Fresno, Jan. 28. -- (U.P.) -- A chartered DC-3 airliner crashed and burned today 83 miles west of Fresno, killing 32 persons, including 28 Mexicans returning to their homeland.
Eyewitnesses said bodies were spread for an area of 250 yards around the charred wreck of the plane. They said ten either jumped or were thrown from the plane and five others were catapulted from the ship when it hit the ground.

All Dead.
Four others were seen in the plane, but the raging flames destroyed the airliner and its contents before other passengers could be spotted.
Search parties continued to seek other bodies in the vicinity of the wreckage.
The Fresno county sheriff's office said "unquestionably" all aboard the Airline Transport Carrier, Inc., plane died in the explosion, crash and fire.
One eye witness MELVIN MILLWORTH, superintendent of the county road camp near where the crash occurred, said he thought some of the passengers may have jumped from the falling plane when its right motor caught fire at an altitude of 1500 feet and the right wing fell off.

Being Deported.
Aboard the plane were 28 Mexicans, being deported by the United States immigration and naturalization service which had chartered the airlines; a crew of three, including a stewardess, and an immigration guard.
At least 26 bodies were taken from the plane. The other six persons were believed to have been trapped inside the wreckage or possibly killed if they jumped out of the plane when the motor caught fire high above the ground.
The company's office in Burbank, Cal., identified the pilot as FRANK ATKINSON, 30, Long Beach, Cal. Also aboard was his wife, BOBBIE, who was stewardess, and Co-Pilot MARION H. EWING, 32, Balboa, Cal.
The immigration service said the guard was FRANK E. CHAFFIN, 53, Berkeley, Cal.
The 28 Mexicans were being flown from Oakland, Cal., to El Centro, Cal., where they were scheduled to debark and re-enter Mexico. Most of them were agricultural workers, who overstayed their U. S. work permits or aliens who had entered the country illegally.
RUDY LARSON, a cook of the Fresno county road camp near where the plane crashed, reported the right motor of the twin-engine craft caught on fire at an altitude of about 1500 feet.
The right wind crumpled and dropped off. LARSON reported, and the plane spun into the ground. The cook said the gasoline tanks apparently exploded just before the airliner plummeted into the earth.
The crash first was reported by MELVIN WILLMIRTH, road camp superintendent. It later was confirmed by civil aeronautics administration offices in San Francisco.
A Southwest Airways pilot who flew over the wreckage reported it was "burning fiercely" and he could see ambulances from the nearby town of Coalinga at the crash scene.
The CAA said the wrecked plane was one of five used by the company on regular non-scheduled flights to Mexico. The company's headquarters is in Burbank, Cal.

List of the Passengers Killed:
RAMON PEREZ.
JESUS SANTOS.
RAMON PORTELLO.
JAMES A. GUARDAHO.
GUADALUPE RAMIREZ.
JULIO BARRON.
JOSE MACIAS.
MARTIN NAVARRO.
APOLONIO PLACENTIA.
SANTIAGO ELISANDRO.
SALVADORE SANDOVAL.
MANUEL CALDERON.
FRANCISCO DURAN.
ROSALIO ESTRADO.
BERNABE GARCIA.
SEVERO LARA.
ELIAS MACIAS.
TOMAS MARQUEZ.
LOUIS MEDINA.
MANUEL MERINO.
LUIS MIRANDO.
YGNACIO NAVARRO.
ROMAN OCHOA.
ALBERTO RAYGOZA.
GUADALUPE RODRIGUEZ.
MARIA RODRIGUEZ.
JUAN RUIZ

The San Mateo Times California 1948-01-28

Comments

Deportee

Thanks for finding and transcribing this article. As I have sung or listened to this sad song over the years, I have often wondered about the events behind it. Like so many of Woody Guthrie's songs, this should be sung loud and often because it is as relevant today as when he wrote it.

This accident prompted Woody

This accident prompted Woody Gutherie to write "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos' aka 'Deportee'.

"The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

My father's own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They are just deportees"

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except "deportees"?"
- Woody Gutherie