Today marks the anniversary of the 1986 mid-air collision of Aeromexico Flight 498 and a private plane above Cerritos. Aboard the jetliner were Raul Leanos, a kid from my junior high in San Jose, and his mother, Elva Leanos, who worked in the school cafeteria. They were on their way back from a summer trip to Mexico before the new school year.
In those days the school would post up lists of homeroom teachers and their students outside the main office. I remember walking to school to check on the assigned teacher for my upcoming 8th grade year, and a crowd of television news reporters blocked my way. Another kid explained that someone had died in a plane crash, and a cameraman taped footage of the homeroom list, surely zooming in on Raul's name for dramatic emphasis.
A few years ago the City of Cerritos dedicated the Cerritos Air Disaster Memorial by Kathleen Carcicof as part of a quiet sculpture garden tucked away near the library. It's a nice place to sit, contemplate, and think about the good folks we've lost.