Relatives Await Fateful Word From PSA Officials
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ About a dozen people Monday night waited in silence at an airport lounge for word of friends and loved ones who had been aboard a Pacific Southwest Airlines flight that crashed en route from Los Angeles.
″I’ve never seen anything so quiet and somber,″ said Ron Wilson, a spokesman at San Francisco Internatinoal Airport.
The jet crashed and exploded on a cattle ranch, killing all 39 passengers and five crew members aboard, after crew members reported hearing gunfire, officials said.
One of the victims in the crash, Anthony Cordova of Hayward, had flown to Los Angeles earlier in the day on a business meeting and missed an earlier flight back to the San Francisco Bay area.
″He was supposed to be on an earlier flight, but the meeting was delayed and he didn’t make the original intended flight,″ said his 19-year-old daughter, Joanne, reached by phone at the family home.
The family was informed of Cordova’s death about 9 p.m. when a PSA official called. The family had sat anxiously around the telephone in the company of a priest and friends since learning of the crash about 5:30 pm., said Joanne Cordova.
″I’m just worried about my mom. She’s doing pretty bad,″ she added.
Those offering help inside airport lounge to grieving relatives and friends included an airport doctor, two paramedics, three Red Cross volunteers, a Roman Catholic priest and a hospital chaplain, Wilson said.
When PSA officials in San Francisco learned of the crash, they immediately rescheduled the flight arrival from Gate 4 to Gate 9. Airport personnel were briefed and then sent to Gate 9, where they took about a dozen people waiting for the flight to the lounge.
The family and friends were sequestered, and reporters were not allowed even on the mezzanine where the lounge is located.
To the right, at Gate 11, people who greeted a Continental flight laughed and hugged, unaware of the disaster unfolding nearby.
During a news conference by a PSA official, a man who appeared to be in his 30s listened intently, then got teary-eyed. The man then greeted another young woman who arrived at the gate, and they embraced and cried for several minutes.
They declined to speak to a reporter.
Ravil Arslan said was watching the evening news at his Burligame home when he learned of the crash and immediately feared his sister, who was supposed to fly in Monday, might be on board.
Arslan and his father raced to the airport and were taken to a room next to the lounge by airport workers. There they were able to contact the woman’s husband and learned that she was safe in Los Angeles.
Arlan’s eyes were teary and red as he left the airport with his father.
Airport officials said they expected to get lots of calls from people unaware of the crash when friends or relatives due in from Los Angeles failed to arrive.