30th anniversary of Cerritos plane crash marked by solemn memorial

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Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of a midair collision over Cerritos that killed 82 people on Aug. 31, 1986.

A devastating midair collision over the city of Cerritos involving an Aeromexico DC-9 and a small plane killed 82 people on Aug. 31, 1986.

The planes crashed into the homes below, killing 67 people onboard the planes and 15 people on the ground.

"We went to so many funerals, even people who you didn't know," Mel Briggs of Cerritos said. "It was just, you don't forget."

On Wednesday, the names of the 82 people killed were read aloud at a solemn memorial to commemorate the day.

"It's something that I think, it just resonates in our mind forever and it always will," Rosie Franco, who lost a friend in the crash said.

Debbie McIllwain said her mother was the only one home when the jet crashed into their house.

"It was just chaos and people not knowing who's alive or who died and obviously that was the hardest thing. No one really cared about their homes," McIllwain said. "It was just a matter of finding the missing people and hoping that my mom was still OK, but obviously she wasn't. That was the hardest part."

The crash happened on a Sunday during the Labor Day weekend. Many who attended Wednesday's ceremony remembered the crash as if it happened yesterday.

"Every time I go into the neighborhood, turn on Ashworth, turn on Holmes, I can still smell the jet fuel," Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who was the mayor of Cerritos at the time recalled. "I can still see and feel the smell of death."
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