Skip to comments.Ten Years Later, TWA Families Still in Pain ( TWA 800 - audio links )
Posted on 07/15/2006 1:39:48 PM PDT by LurkedLongEnough
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Andy Krukar boarded TWA Flight 800 with a diamond ring in his pocket, planning to place it on his fiancee's finger at the Eiffel Tower during a weekend of romantic dinners and strolls through the streets of Paris. The fiancee, Julie Stuart, was going to follow him to Paris the next day to celebrate their formal engagement.
AUDIO: TWA 800 Series Part One
But Krukar was killed when Flight 800 exploded into a spectacular fireball over the Atlantic Ocean just minutes after taking off from Kennedy Airport a disaster that claimed the lives of all 230 people on board.
Miraculously though, a Coast Guardsman working at the crash scene found the engagement ring bobbing in the waves in its burgundy jewel box.
Stuart wears the ring every day.
It was 10 years ago when TWA Flight 800 fell from the sky and Stuart lost her husband-to-be. But it doesn't take an anniversary for her to remember that painful summer of 1996 a look at the glistening diamond ring can bring it all back. For other family members, it's a rainbow, a glass of wine, a precious memory with their loved ones.
AUDIO: TWA 800 Series Part Two
"Time heals you enough so you can move on," said Stuart, 40, of Bridgewater, Conn. And yet, although she is now married with two children, part of her lingers in the past: "I feel Andy is always watching over me."
Joe Lychner of Austin, Texas, lost his wife and two daughters in the disaster. His wife, Pam, a former TWA flight attendant, and 10-year-old Shannon and 8-year-old Katie were going to Paris on vacation. A last-minute business appointment forced him to miss the flight.
"In the early days I wondered if I could go on living without them," Lychner, 48, said. "I kept asking myself, `Why them? Why not me?'"
Lychner is now remarried, and he and his wife have two children, ages 6 and 2.
AUDIO: TWA 800 Series Part Three
While some TWA families have rediscovered happiness, others battle lasting depression. Several couples have divorced including Ann and Ron Dwyer, of New River, Ariz., who split up after the death of their 11-year-old daughter, Larkyn.
"He couldn't stand me crying everyday," said Ann Dwyer, 54. "When he saw me, he saw Larkyn. The way he survived was to run away."
The Dwyers built the Larkyn Memorial Arena, an 85-acre rodeo and riding facility near their home in honor of Larkyn, a horse lover.
"Larkyn liked to draw rainbows," Dwyer said. "On her birthday, there was the most gorgeous rainbow off our back porch. That's what keeps you going."
AUDIO: TWA 800 Series Part Four
Friends of Janet Christopher, a TWA 800 flight attendant whose husband was a New York FBI agent, still celebrate her Oct. 5 birthday by visiting the gravesite near her Poconos home.
The former flighht attendants, known as "the Ladies of the Poconos," spread a blanket on the grass at her grave, set an honorary place for Janet, and toast a glass of wine to their beloved friend.
LeMerle Brinkley, a former TWA flight attendant who flew the Paris route with Christopher for about 25 years, missed the doomed flight because she had a broken arm. Last year, Brinkley went to the Seine River in Paris and carved Christopher's initials onto a piece of fresh cement that she then plastered to a wall.
"I think about her constantly," Brinkley said. "She was such a sweet person, always laughing."
Aurelie and Walter Becker, from St. Petersburg, Fla., said time marches on, even if you try to stop it.
"We are getting older every year, but our daughter Michele will always be 19," Aurelie Becker said. "She will be forever young."
AUDIO: TWA 800 Series Part Five
Federal investigators determined that TWA 800 was destroyed by a fuel-tank explosion likely caused by a spark from a short-circuit in the Boeing 747's wiring that ignited the tank's vapors.
But conspiracy theories that the plane was blown up by a terrorist's missile or the U.S. government have persisted over the past decade even among some family members.
"I grow older and the hate against those who lie only grows," said Michel Breistroff Sr., who lives in France and still believes a missile brought the plane down. "As long as I live, I hope I will get the truth."
Breistroff's son, Michel, had just graduated from Harvard University and was on his way home to Paris to play for a professional hockey team when he was killed. Breistroff and his wife, Audrey, now have four grandchildren. "They bring us joy," he said.
Still, most the families accept the cause as mechanical and find the continued conspiracy speculation painful.
"There may be entertainment value but each time there's a show on conspiracies their healing wounds are ripped apart," said John Seaman, head of the Families of TWA Flight 800 Association.
Tom Corrigan, a former NYPD detective and the lead investigator on the TWA Flight 800 case, has no doubt the crash was an accident.
"We thought this was terrorism," Corrigan said. "We all believed it was a bomb or missile, but after a thorough investigation we found absolutely no evidence."
Corrigan, who is retired from the NYPD, said investigators ran every conspiracy theory to death but could find no credence in them. He noted that 1 million plane pieces brought up from 120 feet below the ocean were analyzed and no evidence of a crime was found.
Ken Maxwell, an FBI agent who supervised the wreckage analysis, called the investigation "the most exhaustive in FBI history." At the same time, Maxwell is frustrated that they were unable to find more than just a probable cause.
To mark the 10th anniversary, hundreds of family members will gather Monday at Smith Point County Park, the closest point on land to the crash site, to honor their lost loved ones at a memorial dedicated for the victims.
One of the fallen was Rance Hettler, a 6-foot-3 track star at Pennsylvania's Montoursville High School, which lost 16 students on TWA 800.
He planned to attend Northeastern University's School of Criminal Justice upon his return from Paris. He wanted to be an FBI agent.
Soon after Hettler's body was recovered by Navy divers, the FBI made Rance an honorary FBI agent, presenting his parents, Jackie and Gary Hettler, with an FBI baseball cap at a small ceremony at bureau headquarters. They put it in their son's coffin.
Ten years for Jackie Hettler has done little to ease the pain.
"I still have a big hole in my heart that will never be filled," she said.
The original story contains links to mp3s, if they don't work for you on this post.
What the hail was the real cause?
FOX just announced they'll do a story on it at 6 ET.
Yes, prayers for the families of those on Flight 800 whatever the cause of the disaster.
Unfortunately that isn't going to deter the conspiracy fans.
Prayers for the family of Dan Gabor, who was in his early 20s when he died. A classmate of mine and a good friend of my brother's. So young. . .
Reading the person details, I can't help but wonder how all of these personal details were linked to victims/survivors in such a short period of time.
How in the work did the ring get traced back to the woman?
How did the FBI know the high school kid wanted to be an agent?
If only the Ft. Marcy park police would have investigated Flt. 800; then we would have known what really happened.
I recall a news report of the failure by a respectable laboratory to explode fuel tank vapors unless they were enriched by propane.
Then they were incompetent. Jet fuel vapor will blow up in your face if exposed to an ignition source.
Right click, Save As
TWA 800, if you hear center ident...
Thanks, that was the first-known beginning of it all. Spooky sounds and all.
The CIA video of the plane rising 1500 feet after the nose was gone is the biggest reason to disregard the official version of the event, tinfoil isn't needed to see that.
That's why I posted it. Most people get too caught up in the conspiracy theories and totally forget that it wasn't just a 747 lost that day but a plane full of passengers.
Hoping you're staying cool during these dog days of summer.
Have you seen many 767s tear themselves apart in mid-air because their reverse thrusters unexpectedly deployed? That happened to a Lauda Air 767 in southeast Asia back in 1991. Didn't happen before, and it hasn't happened since because a correction to the problem was found. How about MD-11s crashing because an electrical fault in the onboard entertainment system caused a fire instead of tripping a circuit breaker? That caused the crash of the SwissAir plane off of Nova Scotia in 1998. Didn't cause the crash of an MD-11 before and it hasn't since because a correction to the problem was found. How about cargo doors blowing off? Engine bolts failing? Rudders falling off? A lot of airline disasters happen once, because causes are identified and corrections made. The fact that 747s aren't blowing up on a daily basis, while perhaps a source of wonder to you, isn't surprising at all to me.
Unless, of course, you believe that the Lauda and Swissair and Turkish Air and the TWA flights were all shot down as well.
Now, How many hundreds of witnesses reported missiles in the incidents you cited?
Did the CIA also make
informative videos propaganda for these events?
And how many different accounts did they give? Different directions, different colors, different launch points? Ask any police officer and he'll tell you that quite often the least reliable evidence in a case is an eyewitness.
CNN special on TWA800 is on NOW.
And will be rebroadcast tonight at 11PM and tomorrow (Sunday 7-16-06)
at 7PM and 11PM.
here's a link to the website for the CNN special on TWA800: