35 years later, PSA Flight 182 crash victims remembered
Memories stir action to create permanent memorial
Last Updated: 72 days ago
SAN DIEGO - Families of those who died in a tragic plane crash 35 years ago in North Park gathered to remember them on Wednesday.
On September 25, 1978, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) Flight 182 was heading in to land at Lindbergh Field when it collided with a Cessna and crashed.
Investigators said 144 people died in the crash. At the time, it was considered the deadliest plane disaster in U.S. history.
Investigators said an instructor was teaching a student how to fly the Cessna by looking down at the instruments only when the collision occurred.
Michael Bagnas told 10News, "I cry tears because I was scared to come home that day."
Bagnas was a sophomore at St. Augustine High School at the time of the crash, and he told 10News his school was turned into a morgue.
He did not lose a loved one that day, but he said he can't and won't forget the tragedy.
"It may have been 11 to 14 seconds for it to actually hit the ground and I got to tell you, it felt like a minute and ... it's just so vivid," said Bagnas. "I remember looking at the sight of that plane and you could just feel and I said this to the guy at Newsweek, you could feel the people screaming."
Then came the impact.
"It seems like everybody in the city heard the boom," he said. "The ground shook. I'm four blocks away and it felt like an earthquake. When it hit, you felt it."
It was a disaster beyond belief; the victims beyond help.
It is a memory that continues to torment Bagnas.
"How do you forget something like that?" he said.
Bagnas also was impressed by his community on that terrible day.
"I just remember how many ambulances there were, how many showed up at the blood banks that day. There was an outpouring of 'I want to help. What can I do?'"
Myra Pelowski, whose 18-year-old brother was a passenger on the flight, said of her brother, "We had such great block of time that I'll never forget."
Pelowski's brother was not supposed to be on the plane, but he experienced car troubles on a road trip and had to get back to San Diego to start his first day at UC San Diego. He was the last one on the plane.
She found difficult to speak as she recalled that final moment together.
"The priest said, 'I'm sorry to tell you your brother was on a plane that crashed today' and I think there was an implosion in my head," she said.
Pelowski told 10News that Michael was "just a really fun-loving, quiet guy."
She added, "Since then, I think there's been a lot more checks and balances. If this had to be the reason for that, I guess that's the good that can come out of it."
Many of those who lost friends and family members are hoping to build a permanent memorial at the crash site.
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