Sunday, August 30, 2009

Raul Leanos, I Hardly Knew You

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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Saw your post. I was also thinking about the Cerritos crash as I lost my sister in law Carmen Barrero in the same crash. She was a passenger on the Aeromexico jet and was returning from visiting her mother in Mexico and spending time in Loreto with her cousin. Her cousin got off the plane in Tijuana and tried to persuade Carmen to stay in Tijuana until Monday. Carmen said she had to get home...

Jennifer - Buena Park said...

I was at the La Mirada swap meet when this crash happened. I saw the two planes just before they hit and said to my friend, hey! don't those planes look close? By the time they hit, about 30 people around us were looking up and saw it happen. We all gasped in horror as the unthinkable happened. I was 14 yrs old and have been forever affected by what I saw that day. When I hear a loud plane overhead I duck or run outside to make sure it is not falling on my family. I still fly but only because it's too far to drive to see my family in FLA but I am never fully comfortable about flying. The events of 9/11 didn't help my discomfort either.
This Cerritos crash affected so many people. I am still so sad when I think about it.
To family and friends: I am sorry for your loss. They will be forever in my heart and never forgotten. J

Anonymous said...

Hi there i just happen to google my last name under images and the black and white picture you have of Raul and his mother came up because my last name is Leanos too and from what i know my last name is not very common so I'm curious to know if i was related to Raul and his mother but i guess now i may never now, but in case if i am i thank you for the web site

Anonymous said...

Just saw your post. I woke up thinking about this incident this morning. I was at Cerritos mall with my mom that day. We were in the TV and appliance section at one of the department stores, so of course, when it came up on every screen people became frantic. I remember a woman on the phone asking asking about a family member.
My heart goes out to all those that were somehow touch by this tragedy.

Anonymous said...

I still think of Raul every now and then......although he was two years older than I, he was my best friend. I looked up to him and wanted to be just like him, the baseball player. It was terrible going to the same middle school is SJ as he had attended, without him being there. I saw his dad a few times after the tragedy, but I never knew what to say to him. I wonder how he's doing, hope he is well.

Anonymous said...

My name is Irene, and I was related to Raul and Elva, and this was truly the very first tragedy as a young child for me, I remember going to the funeral and crying so bad that I was being watched by all who attended, what was even more of a trip was when my dad went to work he mentioned the funeral and tragedy and one of his co-workers said "was your little girl the one in the front and he said yes" he then said wow she made it so sad for everyone. I truly miss him and his mom and I know for sure that he is my guardian angel, we went to school together since kindergarden and did know we were related until we met up at a family function and thats how we discovered we were family. I still remember the song that played at his funeral it was "La Muchila Sul" The Blue Back-pak which he did carry. I love you Raul and Elva and you are truly missed.

Anonymous said...

I miss my primo and Tia there the only real family I had grown up in San Jose CA, since we were the first generation Mexican Americans from our family growing up in the states we were very limited to family, I remember being very young and looking up to him as a idol not just that I remember him sticking up for me when I was getting jumped and bullied in a rough neighborhood oh how time flys, all I could say is I miss them both and my uncle Raul Leaños Sr which is doing good. I will see both of them in heaven if I'm fortunate
Sincerely Jorge Alberto Leaños.