RENO, Nev. (AP) — The lone survivor of a 1985 Reno airplane crash that killed 70 people who were returning from a Super Bowl junket says he can't bring himself to attend a memorial on the 30th anniversary of the disaster.
George Lamson Jr. was 17 when Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 crashed in a field in south Reno on Jan. 21, 1985. Rescuers responding to the fiery wreckage found him strapped in his seat on a street.
"I don't want to be remembered as the boy who survived this accident. I want to be remembered as the man that lived," Lamson, 47, told the Reno Gazette-Journal this week (http://tinyurl.com/o9ph48f ).
Washoe County officials plan to unveil a new memorial plaque on Wednesday after the original was stolen two years ago near the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
Lamson, who lives in Reno, said it's too difficult for him to be there for the ceremony. But he said he recently visited the new memorial and was pleased with the plaque, which is embedded in a granite boulder and surrounded by pine trees that were planted in memory of the plane's passengers and crew.
"It's very difficult to say anything," Lamson said. "Life is a gift for which I am always grateful for. Thank you to all that have helped me along in my journey."
Lamson, his father, George Sr., and 64 other football fans from Minnesota had traveled on a charter flight from Minneapolis to Reno. Some of the group went by bus to Stanford, California, to attend the Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins. Others traveled to Lake Tahoe and watched the game at Caesars Tahoe.
The group reunited late Jan. 20, 1985 at then-Reno-Cannon International Airport. Galaxy Airlines Flight 203, a Lockheed Electra 4-engine turboprop, took off just after 1 a.m.
A minute after takeoff, the co-pilot notified the tower of a severe vibration and requested an immediate return. The plane crashed and broke in half just in front of the row where Lamson and his father were seated. A huge fireball followed, catapulting Lamson onto a street.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com