San Diego, CA Laguna Mountain Plane Crash, Dec 1946


Hold Little Hope for Twelve in Plane Crash

SAN DIEGO, Cal., Dec. 26 -- (UP) -- A heavy fog blanket over the towering Laguna mountains today hid the fate of 12 passengers aboard a Western Airliner which disappeared on a Christmas Eve flight.

Fog so thick it forced patrol planes to fly by instrument halted the search centered 60 miles east of here at sundown last night. The coast guard said its planes would be back in the air at dawn today.

Scores of deputy sheriffs, ranchers, and forest rangers who had been combing the mountains on foot and on horseback also called off the search. A party of eight, led by Rudy Frowiss of El Centro, Cal., brother-in-law of passengers Edgar Martin, continued through the night.

Chances for survivors among the nine holiday-bound passengers and three crew members appeared poor. Ranchers and three high school boys reported they saw a flash and a fire in the mountains 11 minutes after the two-engined DC-3 made its last radio report and a housewife who also saw the flash said it was followed by an explosion.

Coast Guard Pilot Lt. Ira McMullen reported he saw a "silvertail through the overcast" 10 miles east of Mount Laguna and other wreckage scattered over a wide area. Visibility was so poor that searchers were unable to identify the wreckage definitely.

The plane, bound for San Diego from El Centro, Cal., last was heard at 7:09 p.m. Christmas eve when Pilot George Sprado radioed he was over Mount Laguna at an elevation of 7,000 feet. At that time he said everything was "okay" and visibility excellent. The low fog closed in soon after the plane disappeared, shrouding its fate.

Transcribed from The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Indiana, December 26, 1946, p1.