Some San Diegans think one of the worst plane crashes in U.S. history is not properly memorialized.
The only public monument recognizing the crash of PSA Flight 182 is a small plaque under a tree in the North Park Library parking lot.
“It’s inept,” said Rick Carlson. “It’s very small. It’s obscure. It’s hidden at a library in North Park.”
Carlson is the chairman of the PSA Flight 182 Memorial Committee. They are working on a better memorial for the 144 people who died when the Boeing 727 collided with a Cessna above North Park on September 28, 1978.
One hundred thirty-five people were on board Flight 182. The two people in the Cessna died. Seven people on the ground died as well. Twenty-two homes were either damaged or destroyed.
“It was the most horrendous event that I’ve ever participated in,” said Carlson, who was on scene as a San Diego Police officer that day. “It was the largest air disaster in California, I believe in the United States at that time.”
The committee is working on a memorial better than the one outside the North Park Library or the small plaque inside the Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park.
“It’s not enough. I don’t think. I think these people deserved more. I think the event deserved more,” said former PSA flight attendant Mary-Frances Reilly, who knew all of the PSA crew members killed in the crash. “It was very, very overwhelming and I don’t think you ever get over it.”
Reilly does not like the fact that the only name listed on the plaque outside the library belongs to then-councilwoman Christine Kehoe.
The committee wants to build a permanent memorial on a small city-owned triangular median located on Boundary and Felton in North Park. It’s only a block away from the crash site. The committee is working on a formal proposal for the City of San Diego.
“I think it will enhance the neighborhood rather than detract from it. I really do,” said Reilly.
“Just something that would show that there was some care because some people in the community were affected by it,” said Carlson.
The committee will host its annual memorial ceremony at the corner of Dwight and Nile this Sunday at 9 a.m. That’s the 38th anniversary of the crash.