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Newlyweds among plane crash victims

By
GERALD KOPPLIN

MINNEAPOLIS -- Happy newlyweds Sam Fragale and Kay Meyer, married during a weekend gambling junket to Lake Tahoe, were on their way home when the plane carrying them and their best man crashed after takeoff in Reno, Nev.

Friends waiting at the airport Monday learned the couple and Fragale's brother, Louie Fragale Sr., were not among the three survivors of the air disaster.

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The Galaxy Airlines four-engine turboprop airliner crashed early Monday in a recreational vehicle sales lot moments after takeoff, killing as many as 69 people.

The passengers had left Minneapolis Friday and spent Super Bowl weekend at Caesar's Hotel-Casino near Lake Tahoe.

Andy Conney and Dave Meyer, no relation to the bride, said the couple, who were in their 40s, had gone on the trip to get married. Fragale's 49-year-old brother had been their best man.

'We were here to greet them,' said Conney. 'They called and said the plane would be delayed because of a technical problem. They were happy.'

Another Minnesota couple booked on the charter flight back home said they decided at the last minute to take a different flight out of Reno.

Douglas and Beverly Abalan of Bloomington returned Monday night on a commercial flight, 18 hours after the crash.

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'I cannot describe the feeling that my wife and I have,' Abalan said. 'It's just a mixture of sheer terror, of being grateful for not having been on that airplane.'

Abalan said he told his friends of his decision not to return.

'We made that decision on the bus, on the way down to Reno, following the Super Bowl,' he said. 'It was just a choice my wife and I made instead of flying all night.

'This proves very firmly in my mind,' Abalan said, 'that there's a higher power. We had no doubts about the safety -- my wife and I didn't.'

Earlier, he telephoned his sister-in-law, Delores Ford of Bloomington, that they were safe. 'I had a bad feeling about the flight,' he said he told Ford.

Abalan said many friends were among those who died.

'There are no words that can express ... how the families of our friends must feel,' he said.

Mrs. Abalan, bowing her head over a railing and sobbing, said, 'Just leave me alone. Just leave me alone.'

Dan Monroe, 32, St. Paul, waited all day for word of his parents, Dave and Arlene Monroe, retired teachers from Grand Rapids, Minn.

'I had a premonition when I woke up at 5 a.m. and heard a plane crashed,' he said. 'I knew they were in Lake Tahoe.'

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Ten hours later, Monroe said the FBI confirmed his parents were on the manifest. 'We know their fate at least. That conformed what I felt was 99 percent sure. That's about the end of it for us.'

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