Cerritos - August 31, 1986

Cerritos - Grief fell out of the sky that morning,.

August 31, 1986 – A Town Like Cerritos – A Beach Like Huntington

Cerritos - August 31, 1986
Cerritos – Grief fell out of the sky that morning,.
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August 31, 1986 – News reports via KNX-Newsradio – Los Angeles – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

August 31, 1986 – A day where local news took center stage, at least in Los Angeles. Beginning in the L.A. suburb of Cerritos, which was the site of one of the deadliest airline disasters in recent memory. On Sunday, At about 11:46 am, Aeromexico Flight 498, from Mexico City began its descent into Los Angeles with 58 passengers and six crew members on board. At 11:52 am, the Piper’s engine collided with the left horizontal stabilizer of the DC-9, shearing off the top of the Piper’s cockpit and decapitating Kramer and both of his passengers. The heavily damaged Piper fell onto an empty playground at Cerritos Elementary School.

The DC-9, with all of its horizontal stabilizer and most of its vertical stabilizer torn off, inverted and immediately entered a dive. It slammed into a residential neighborhood at Holmes Avenue and Reva Circle in Cerritos, crashing into the backyard of a house at 13426 Ashworth Place, exploding on impact. The explosion scattered the DC-9’s wreckage across Holmes Avenue and onto Carmenita Road, destroying four other houses and damaging seven more. All 64 passengers and crew on board the DC-9 and fifteen people on the ground were killed; a fire added to the damage.

A few hours later, and by way of irony, news from the coastal community of Huntington Beach, where it was reported a major disturbance was unfolding. Hundreds of youths went on a rampage in Huntington Beach on Sunday afternoon, pelting police officers with rocks and bottles, storming a large lifeguard station and overturning and burning police vehicles.

Police said at least 12 people were injured, including five Huntington Beach officers and one Orange County sheriff’s deputy. Thirteen people were arrested but scores of youths who threw bottles at officers or took part in the destruction escaped in the confusion.

The disturbance broke out about 2 p.m. behind bleachers being used for the final day of the Ocean Pacific Pro Surfing Championships, which drew a crowd estimated at 100,000 people.

Witnesses said the melee had no direct connection to the surfing contest but instead was triggered by two or more men behind the bleachers immediately south of the Huntington Beach Pier who were trying to take off the bathing suits of two young women.

When officers went to the aid of the women, said one Huntington Beach officer who was involved, they were met by a hail of rocks and bottles. Those who were injured, including the six law enforcement officers, reportedly were hit by thrown objects or struck by people in the rampaging crowd. Most of the injuries consisted of sprains and head cuts.

Retreating under a barrage of rocks and bottles, officers took refuge in the two-story Vincent G. Moorhouse Lifeguard Headquarters, an administration and maintenance building about a half mile down the beach. Thousands of persons, many of them continuing to throw bottles at the police, followed.

The huge crowd surrounded the building and began jeering at the police and lifeguards inside, according to witnesses and officers. Some of the rioters then broke apart an aluminum fence railing and used parts of it to shatter windows in five police vehicles parked outside the lifeguard headquarters.

Eventually, quiet would return in Huntington Beach and an investigation began in Cerritos.

But it wasn’t your typical Sunday, not in 1986 anyway.

Here is that report and other news from KNX in Los Angeles on August 31, 1986.

Huntington Beach riot - 1986
Huntington Beach – how rowdy turns to ugly in seconds.

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