PSA Flight #182 Crash Detailed in New Book, “Paramedic Heretic”

5 seconds before hell on earth (photo by Hans Wendt)

5 seconds before hell on earth (photo by Hans Wendt)

The day that broke the heart of a city

I had not planned on visiting an airplane crash on my birthday but that’s the way this job treats you. You think the biggest part of your afternoon will involve a chocolate cake. Then an airliner comes screaming down into a neighborhood nearby. For a medic, watching the action unfold on television isn’t really an option, even on your day off.

So within eight minutes after it happened, by 9:10 in the morning, I was there, walking slowly towards a wall of flames of the worst airline disaster – up till then – in U.S. history. PSA Flight #182 had collided with a tiny Cessna training plane a half-mile above the city of San Diego. And seventeen seconds after the two planes struck each other, the monstrous Boeing 727 exploded into a quiet residential nook, splattering wreckage throughout four city blocks of the neighborhood we call North Park. The impact was literally earth-shaking – powerful enough to register several ticks on the Richter earthquake scale. It took the thunder ball all of three seconds to incinerate 22 houses and a dozen cars – as well as trees, front porches, power lines, telephone poles and a playful little pit bull lounging on a lawn. The human toll was unspeakable: 128 passengers. Seven flight crew. Seven more in homes and cars. Two pilots in the Cessna on a city street not far away. The carnage was – as the National Transportation Safety Board determined – the ugly result of three tiny human errors that occurred within a frighteningly brief period of time. Sometimes that’s all it takes. A year later the NTSB report would say this:

The causes of the crash were threefold:

  • •• The PSA flight crew did not advise the control tower that they had lost sight of the smaller plane, after initially answering that they had the Cessna in sight
  • • The pilots of the Cessna failed to maintain their assigned heading, as instructed by the tower
  • • The ATC controller failed to advise the airliner that the Cessna had veered toward its glide path, even though his warning alert had sounded, telling him the planes were on a collision course

And so it all came to this, and a quiet California neighborhood now resembled your worst vision of ground zero.

Sadly, there was no one left for us to save (photo credit: San Diego Police Academy)

Sadly, there was no one left for us to save.  (Photo credit: San Diego Police Academy)

(Book excerpt. for more, The Paramedic Heretic is available worldwide, but most easily purchased via Barnes & Noble or Amazon Books)


4 thoughts on “PSA Flight #182 Crash Detailed in New Book, “Paramedic Heretic”

  1. When did this happen? no date and PSA no longer exists.

  2. S.A. native says:

    Hey Pat, Maybe you ran across this miscreant: Helpful gyn who was showings patients where their G-spot is. Best regards, Charles Weston aka Doctor Watchdog

    Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2015 02:00:09 +0000 To:

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