A special documentary screening marked the 40th anniversary of the 144 lives tragically lost when PSA Flight 182 collided with a Cessna in the sky above North Park.
The large crowd at Grossmont College included relatives or loved ones of crash victims, witnesses and first responders. All of them hold on to memories of that fall day in 1978, and some of them shared those memories in the film "Return to Dwight and Nile."
Michael Bagnas was a sophomore at a nearby high school when he heard a big boom.
"I said to my friends, ‘Hey, they're making a movie,’" he recounted. But Bagnas soon realized that what he was seeing was real. "It hit and literally the ground shook. Like it felt like it moved several inches underneath us and this big, huge fireball, mushroom cloud just billowed up."
Bill Nemec was a brand-new San Diego police officer who had just arrested burglary suspects.
"I was writing the report when all of a sudden we heard a radio report came in over the air that one of the officers was reporting that he had a jetliner down,” Nemec said.
He and two other officers jumped in an ambulance and headed to the crash site.
"There wasn't a whole lot of hope for finding survivors, yet we kept looking,” he said.
The men told NBC 7 that while their memories are horrific, gathering with others affected by the crash helps them cope.
Martin Ennis helped organize the documentary screening. As a history instructor at Grossmont College, he wants to make sure this piece of local history is always remembered.
"It was San Diego's hometown airline which made a bad event just a little bit worse,” he said.
At the screening, people talked about trying to get a memorial plaque placed near the intersection of Dwight and Nile streets, the spot where the plane crash landed, before the next anniversary.