Cerritos, CA Jetliner Collides With Single-Engine Plane, Aug 1986

Cerritos CALIF Plane crashing after collision.jpg Cerritos CALIF wreckage site..jpg Cerritos CAL Crash site 8-31-1986.jpg Cerritos CAL Crash memorial.jpg Cerritos CAL Piper Aircraft wreckage.jpg


Cerritos, Calif. -- An AeroMexico DC-9 jetliner and a single-engine plane collided in flight Sunday and hurled into a suburban Los Angeles neighborhood, killing all 67 people aboard the planes and at least five people on the ground.
A wall of flame and burning debris howled through the upper-middle class subdivision 20 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The planes crashed just 8 miles from Disneyland and 3 miles from the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park.
One resident burned to death trying to save his $170,000 house with a garden hose.
In addition, police said, there was a possibility that a family of seven had also perished in another home, but it was unconfirmed.
Authorities said the planes were between 6,000 and 7,000 feet high when they collided. The Federal Aviation Administration would not comment on how they came to be in the same airspace, but one airport official said he understood the small plane "had every right to be there."
Part of the fuselage of AeroMexico Flight 498 came to rest on Carmenita Avenue after hurtling through a concrete retaining wall. It was the only recognizable piece of the DC-9 to be seen. Parts of bodies littered the manicured lawns and emergency workers rushed about covering them with yellow plastic bags.
"We know there were people in those homes and there could not be anybody alive in any of them," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Battalion Chief GORDON PEARSON. He said at least five residents were killed and nine injured.
An AeroMexico official said there were 58 passengers and six crew members aboard Flight 498 from Mexico City. "We are not aware of any survivors," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy DREW BASEY said.
The airliner destroyed at least 10 houses and damaged 20 more. The Piper Tomahawk, with three people in it, fluttered to earth in a nearby schoolyard. A woman's legs protruded from a window.
"My neighbors are dead! My neighbors are dead!" screamed a hysterical woman roaming through the grisly wreckage. "My cat is dead! The planes, my God, they disintegrated. Look at the torso over there. Oh my God."

Continued on Page 2.


It could happen anywhere in the LA basin

Planes fly all over the area and given the altitudes of some no place in the LA basin is immune. However crashes are rare so you can have a little piece of mind and live pretty much worry free of falling planes.

I was in the are at the time building a motor for a friend. I looked to see just how close it was... WOW. It missed his place but not by what I would call a comfortable margin. I saw the little plane first hand. It wasn't pretty. We were living across the street from the Fountain Vally Police Department when we heard the ground impact.

Elizabeth Peña my childhood friend

My best friend as a child was Elizabeth Peña, and this tragic event impacted me greatly. I don't have any pictures of her, and would love to talk about her with you.

God Bless Those who lost their lives,andtheir precious memories.

I was one of the first persons on this scene and also an EMT/Paramedic off duty driving by and watched the entire event occur and later went to the piper aircraft that went down in the school yard a few blocks away.Even as a trained medical professional the scene I encountered that morning haunted my dreams for many tear, i just hope the families find peace.

God Bless

Many are buried in Green

Many are buried in Green Hills Cemetery in Harbor City


anyone know in which cemetery are buried the victims? My mother does not remember the name of the cemetery, my dad was the pilot of this flight.

We jsut moved into the

We jsut moved into the neighborhood, and this haunts me. Funny after all these years the feeling of such a tragic event lingers. We love Cerritos, but I don't like passing Ashworth and Reva.

Thank You

thank you so much for takind the time to share this. My family passed away in this horrible accident thery were Elizabeth Pena, Cristina Pena, Oscar Pena and Maria Pena. i was 6 at that time but i still remember like if it was yesterday. Please let me know if in the nearest future there will be a memorial or something special to remember this day

Thank you

thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with myself and every visitor to this page.
Thank you

1986 Cerritos Air Crash

I lived in Cerritos when the collision occurred on August 31, 1986. My family was in Big Bear, CA for Labor Day weekend when the incident happened and we learned about it from neighbors across the street from where we were staying.

The Aeromexico jet was hit in the tail area from below by the smaller plane. The pilot of the smaller plane apparently had suffered a heart attack and lost control, colliding with the jet and sending both to the ground.

I knew a family of four, the Nelson family, who lived next door to the house where the jet hit. Their two sons were outside, one in the front yard and one in the back, while the parents were in the house. All four survived the disaster.

There was a man and his daughter in the house where the jet hit, both of whom perished. The collision occurred in the late morning, while many families were at church. The smaller plane came down in a schoolyard directly across from Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos and landed in the grass near a baseball diamond.

If the collison had occurred any later, many more families may have been killed in their homes by the larger jet. If the collision had occurred during the week, many school children may have been killed by the smaller plane. If the collision had occurred on the weekend before or after it actually occurred, many more families, instead of vacationing over the Labor Day weekend as my family was, would have been killed in their homes.

I have heard recordings and read transcripts online of the conversations between air traffic controllers on the ground and the air crew moments before the crash. No mention is made of the smaller plane during the transmission.