Last updateFri, 21 Sep 2018 10am

Investigative labor of love honors lives of 28 migrants who perished in California plane wreck

In his documentary novel, “All They Will Call You,” Mexican-American author Tim Z. Hernandez tells the tragic story of a 1948 plane crash in California that killed 28 migrant workers being deported to Mexico. One victim was from Jocotepec.

Officials and the news media called the unidentified victims “deportees,” and buried their remains in a mass grave near the crash site. Many loved ones and relatives endured decades waiting for official identification, confirmation and closure, and that’s a major part of the book. 


Hernandez located one of them still living in Jocotepec, and chapter four of his book describes his meeting with her in January 2015.

For Casimira Navarro López, time would knock on her door sixty-seven years later, almost to the day. Until this moment, she had never been asked to speak about her boyfriend, who was killed in “the worst airplane disaster in California’s history.”

She paused, and it was clear that she could see herself in her mind as a young woman. The light of her best years had not yet dimmed, despite the eclipse that was January 28, 1948, a time when her only concern was being a young woman in love with a young man. The remembering made it palpable. The mere mention of his name elicited a long silence.

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