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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Plane crash kills 48

Feb. 2, 1958
Los Angeles

A military version of a DC-6 airliner and a patrol plane collide in midair, showering five square miles of Norwalk with flaming wreckage and bits of metal. The main portion of the C-118 plunges into a gas station at Pioneer and Firestone boulevards, careens across the street and starts a fire when it slams into a gasoline supply dump at the sheriff's substation. The P-2V comes to rest in the parking lot of the Santa Fe Springs fire station.

In addition to the victims on the two aircraft, Edith Hernandez, 23, 12303 Jersey St., is killed by falling metal when she runs outside to check on the safety of her children.

As emergency personnel from across the area converge on the scene of the disaster, thousands of spectators swarm the area, bringing the Santa Ana Freeway to a standstill.

The crash, which ultimately claimed 48 lives, prompted a congressional investigation and a Navy ban on low-level flights from Los Alamitos Naval Air Station. It is California's worst air disaster, The Times says.



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Comments (8)

I witnessed this mid air collision while playing hide n' seek as a child. We were living in east los angeles at the time. I was hiding behind a house and happened to look up when I saw that two airplanes seemed to be headed towards one another.Because it was already dark it was the lights of both airplanes that caught my attention.As i watched, the lights converged creating a huge flash of orange red light.After the flash, two balls of fire could clearly be seen falling from the sky.

I was 10 and my sister was 6 when this occurred in 58. We were living in Norwalk by where the new city hall is now. My parents went out and an elderly lady was staying with us when we heard a very loud explosion. I looked out the window and saw the burning debris falling from the sky and then the power went out and we had no lights. The elderly lady was a real trooper and calmly questioned me till she found some candles which we huddled by wondering what was falling from the skies till my parents got home and filled us in. Sticks in a kids memory.

I was only 4 years old at the time living in Downey but I remember my parents driving over to the site at Firestone and Pioneer on a back side street right behind the Sheriff’s station. To this day, I can remember the burned out sheriff’s cars and the burned out buildings. At 4 years old, that is perhaps one of my earliest memories. My dad's friend was at the old South Gate Drive-in seeing a movie and had seen the collision. I will never forget this one.

I was 7 1/2 years old and was living in Norwalk a few blocks from Firestone Blvd. I remember it very well. I was playing in our den with my train sitting at the table with the window facing South towards Firestone Blvd. I saw a bright flash of light in the sky, it was so close and I could see the plane so clear with the fire. At the time I didn't realize it was two planes. I ran to tell my Mom what happened. I still talk about it to this day.

I witnessed this plan crash when I was 9 years old. I remember playing in the back yard of our house on Orr & Day Road in Norwalk Ca. I was looking up
into sky as and pointing my toy cannon at a plan in the sky, I noticed
another smaller plan heading toward the bigger plan, I watched closely wondering if they would hit or miss each other like they always had before. This time I was surprised because the planes did hit. I saw them coming
toward each other and watched them collide with each other. I can still see that huge fireball in my mind whenever I think back to this crash. There is a
very interesting story to me personally about this plan crash that I would
like to tell someday to the public.

me and the orozcos ,and joe ,stevie seen it all we lived on smith ave santa fe springs .

My name is Robert Carr, My dad's brother was on that flight,had just finished his tour in the Navy and was killed on his way home.Left 4 girls and 1 boy.His name was Carl Junior Carr of White Sulfer springs W.V. Can anyone share any info on this person with me please.

Best Regards,


My family and I (Mom, dad, and sister) were in the parking lot directly across the street from this crash. Sitting in our 1950 Chevy sedan, and peeling back the paper on our burgers from a drive-up burger joint that was there back then.
I can still remember the bomb-like explosion, the flames that shot up forever, and the sound of bits of debris pelting off the roof of the Chevy. My dad, a B-17 pilot in WWII acted like he had done this before, and got us safely out of there.
February 2nd, 1958 was four days before my fifth birthday.
Some things you just don't forget.


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