A year before the Dot.Com crash, the neighborhood had a different crash all together. On the afternoon of October 25, 1999 there was a tragic police helicopter accident that took the lives of the two people on board. If you lived in San Jose back then your probably remember the tragedy.
I was reminded of it on a recent Memorial Weekend walk when I came across a marker for one of the two victims.
Flying from Reid-Hillview airport to San Jose International Airport was the troubled San Jose Police Department's Air1 Helicopter a McDonnell Douglas MD520N helicopter used as air support in chasing criminals and finding lost residents.
The pilot, San Jose Police Officer Desmond Casey and helicopter mechanic Herman Yee were troubleshooting a steering pedal problem when it lost control and crashed in front of 2021 The Alameda (near the intersection of Newhall Street, across from the Shell gas station) in San Jose's Newhall neighborhood.
Desmond J. Casey's memorial service was at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. Over 3,000 officers, relatives and friends came to say goodbye. He was buried at Mission Cemetery in Santa Clara. He was San Jose's 10th officer to lose his life while on active duty. McDonnell Douglas and other defendants paid $1 million to Casey's estate in a wrongful death settlement. He was engaged to be married and had no children.
The cause of the crash was determined to be cracks in the cabling linking the tail boom that lead to the failure of the automated stability augmentation system, Casey's incorrect use of a flying maneuver and the mechanics failure to open an access panel to fully examine the control cable were also listed as contributing factors in this unfortunate accident.
In 2011 budget cuts forced the grounding of San Jose's Air Unit for a few months, assigning the pilots to car patrol duty. Thankfully things have improved and San Jose Police have come up with the $1.5 million a year that it costs to provide air support for San Jose's patrol officers. Air 2 is supported by two San Jose Police Officers who are qualified helicopter pilots.
The memorial site needs some stepping stones in the ivy to reach the plaque since it isn't safe to be in the actual street to reach it, but it is yet another story in our neighborhood's fascinating history.