Tomorrow marks the 45th anniversary of the plane crash that killed 22 people, including 16 Cal Poly football players.
The Arctic-Pacific C-46 plane went down after its left engine failed shortly after takeoff from the Toledo airport in Ohio. At the time it was the worst sports air disaster in U.S. history. Only 26 people survived. One of those survivors is the new offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, Ted Tollner.
“You try to do the best to appreciate the life that you have been given,” Tollner said.
Tollner was the starting quarterback for Cal Poly for two years, and since then has coached for the Bills, 49ers, Rams and Chargers. Tollner was also the coach for USC from 1982-86. Remembering the night he was pulled from the burning plane; Tollner said there are two sides.
“There’s the good fortune of living and the grief of thinking of the people who didn’t make it,” Tollner said.
Johnny Nettleship, another survivor, was covering the game for the Telegram-Tribune, now the Tribune. He was sports editor on the paper from 1950 until 1980, and passed away January 25, 2005, at the age of 88.
Carl Bowser, another survivor was inducted into the Cal Poly hall of fame in 2002.
Some survivors of the crash meet every June at ex-teammate Rich Max’s home according to the Tribune.
After the crash, a game of mercy was played between Bowling Green State University and Fresno state on Thanksgiving. All proceeds of the game were donated to the Cal Poly memorial fund. The new Cal Poly football stadium will contain a memorial to the players who died.
“An important part of the renovation of our stadium is our goal to recognize and honor all of the members of the 1960 football team who perished in a tragic plane crash in Ohio,” said Cal Poly President Warren Baker.
The plan calls for a memorial plaza next to the stadium, which will contain a copper pillar for each player that died. Each pillar will be the height of that player and contain a biographical plaque.
The players who lost their lives: Larry Austin, Rob Baugen, John Dell, Oliver Dean Carlson, Franklin Joel Copeland, Victor C. Hall, Guy C. Hennigan, Curtis Hill, Gary Van Horn, Marshall J. Kuljo, Jim C. Ledbeter, Lynn T. Lobaugh, Wendell Miner, Donald J. O’Meara, Raymond Porras, Wayne R. Sorensen and William A. Stewart.