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Cerritos Plane Crash Remembered 25 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago, a harrowing plane crash occurred in Los Angeles County, known as the Cerritos Air Disaster. Aeromexico Flight 498 was on a final approach to LAX when its wing was clipped by a small Piper Archer airplane that had strayed into commercial airspace. The collision caused the Aeromexico plane to plummet to the earth. The Piper crashed in a deserted school yard, but the commercial plane landed upside down on several houses. On that Sunday during Labor Day weekend, 82 people were killed in the accident, including 15 people that were on the ground.

Twelve houses in all were destroyed, four by the plane crash and eight more from the resulting fires. One woman came home from the grocery store to find the disaster had struck her house; her husband and two teenage children perished. While the community banded together to grieve and eventually recover, many moved away. Cerritos ultimately honored the victims with a three-part memorial in the Civic Center's sculpture garden.

The plane crash also led to vital changes in the airplane industry. All commercial craft were subsequently required to use a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System. Additionally, small planes flying near busy commercial airspace were required to have a Mode C transponder. The transponder instruments broadcast altitudes to air traffic controllers, a device the Piper plane did not have installed.

Twenty-five years later, we still see innocent people victimized to plane crash disasters. The laws and regulations concerning injury claims from airline accidents seem confusing to many, especially to those survivors who are simultaneously coping with their grief. A Los Angeles County attorney experienced in handling claims for serious injury and death resulting from airline disasters may help answer important questions and plan an appropriate course to seek justice and hold negligent parties accountable.

Source: The Press-Telegram, "Cerritos plane crash left its scars," Karen Robes Meeks, Aug. 27, 2011

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