Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stumbled onto Sadness

This is a beat up business card that was given to me by my friend Karl Karlsson. It was new when I got it, back in 1999, when Karl retired from the San Francisco Police Department and opened his office as a Private Investigator. He was serious about his work, but loved to play... he and I drank a lot together, back in the day. Superbowl parties were Karl's specialty and the booze and food was good and plentiful at his house on the Petaluma River, just south of Petaluma.

In late 1999, Karl and his wife Carol told me they were going to Puerto Vallarta to party for 10 days and watch the Superbowl and then fly home. I was headed to Mexico for the winter and it turned out I was in Vallarta on my boat BLISS in late January. I got their number and invited them out for a sail on Banderas Bay, so we did.

As we started back after the daily sea breeze died my diesel wouldn't start... so we sailed into the anchorage at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle in the dark. Carl was steering, Carol was reading off the depths as we came in and I was on the bow ready to drop the anchor. After we succeeded in sailing in the hook, I gave them the vee berth and went to sleep in the quarter berth near the nav station.

The next morning, I got into the engine room and started the diesel by jumping across the starter motor with a screwdriver (lots of noise and sparks) and we motored back to my slip. I drove them to their hotel. Karl told me he wanted to spend their last day together alone in PV (Superbowl Sunday) so I bid them adieu and drove back to the marina.

The next day I watched the Superbowl at a pub somewhere and the following Monday Karl and Carol boarded Alaska Airlines flight 261 out of Puerto Vallarta for San Francisco and Seattle. A flight I had taken a number of times. But theirs never made it. They died with the 86 other passengers and crew when the plane slammed into the Pacific Ocean near Pt. Conception in California on January 31, 2000.

I was cleaning out some stuff when I came across Karl's card., and it all came back to me.
So I wrote it here.


1st Mate said...

Knowing two people on that flight made it so much more real for me, what it was like for all those passengers on that plane at the end. The effect on Carl and Carol's family back in Petaluma when they got the news. And most of all, the pain you must have felt when you heard about it.

rob said...

Great post, thanks for feeling that you can share your sadness with us. I believe that it can often help the healing process if you are able to share your loss with somebody else, no matter who, just so long as they have a "sympathetic ear"

Chrissy y Keith said...

we lost a few Alaskans on this flight as well. It was a horrible day. Not long after that we had a high ranking offical from Alaska AIrlines visit our Rotary Club. They had been trying to phase out those crappy MD-80 aircraft even prior to this accident. I cried about it. Very sad. I am sorry for your loss.

Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

Oh so sorry. I remember that well. We were on our other boat in Mexico as well. Friends of friends were on the plane and our friends up here in Oxnard were on the beach when items washed up... It was devastating to so many people in our area as well.