San Diego, CA Jet Liner and Small Aircraft Collide, Sep 1978
North Park residents, many of them elderly, ran screaming into the streets as bodies and burning debris hurtled down from 3,000 feet. Ten homes were destroyed and six more damaged after fiery wreckage touched off blazes that blackened a half-block area. More than 100 fire-fighters worked to extinguish the fires.
One man sobbed after finding the body of his sister, DARLENE WATKINS, lying in a charred ruins of her home. "My sister's lying there burned to death," SAM RUSH said. "She's all busted up and everything." RUSH said burning wreckage had fallen onto his sister's house.
WILL MOGLE ran from his burning, blood-spattered home, screaming, "My wife, my wife, my God!" But police said the body in the house belonged not to FRANCES MOGLE, but to an unidentified man thrown from one of the planes.
The body of one passenger fell through the windshield of a car, said ambulance attendant MICHAEL GUSS.
IRENE JENSEN said she was taking a shower when she heard fragments falling. "It was like rain. You could hear it on the roof," she said.
She ran to a window and saw the jetliner disappear into a row of homes. "I could hear people screaming as it went by overhead."
DWANE GALLEGOS, a 20 year old grocery clerk, said the plane "was coming right at me."
"Pieces of the plane came flying through my side window and windshield," said GALLEGOS, who was not injured. "I heard a loud noise first. I looked up and there was a big hole in the right side of the (plane's) body, back near the tail."
A large wing piece smashed into the patio at the rear of the North Park Seventh Day Adventist Church. Caretaker NEIL STICKNEY said a crumpled attache case, containing only six pens and pencils, fell onto the lawn nearby.
In the church courtyard, STICKNEY found a pair of glasses and a broken key on a plastic key ring, labled "Gibbs Flight Center," a company based at nearby Montgomery Field which owned the Cessna.
BILL GIBBS, president of the company, identified the two persons aboard the single-engine Cessna as Marine Sgt. DAVID BOSWELL, 35, and his instructor, MARTIN KAZY, 32.
GIBBS said BOSWELL had a pilot's license but was taking additional instruction on instrument approach and landing procedures. GIBBS said KAZY might have intentionally blocked BOSWELL'S vision, a common practice in instrument training, but said local controllers had given BOSWELL his approach pattern.
"He was just where he was supposed to be," said GIBBS.
The pilot of the 727, Capt. JAMES McFERON of Escondido, Calif., had been with PSA for 17 years, airline officials said.
The PSA flight, one of the airlines's busiest commuter runs, had begun in Sacramento with a stop in Los Angeles.
PSA officials said the plane was carrying 37 of the airline's employees, many of them senior personnel. Also aboard were a number of state government employees who had boarded in Sacramento.
At least six persons were treated at hospitals for injuries. Others were treated at the site by Red Cross workers. A crowd of 3,000 to 5,000 onlookers surged into the area, briefly blocking ambulances before police cordoned off the site.
Nine persons were arrested for looting and 19 others were taken into custody on various charges.
The crash was the first fatal accident in PSA's 29 years of operation and the first deaths involving a commerical jetliner at 51-year-old Lindbergh Field.
The worst aviation disaster in U. S. history before yesterday's crash occurred in 1960, when 134 persons died in New York City after a collision between a United Airlines DC-8 and a Trans World Airlines Constellation.
Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1978-09-26
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