- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of relatives and friends of the victims in the nation’s second deadliest air accident dedicated a much-awaited memorial yesterday with mementos and mixed emotions.

Wearing their losses on T-shirts, scarves and buttons, families clutching red roses and photographs gathered on a foggy beachfront to look up the names of 265 loved ones killed when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed five years ago.

“It’s something that we can come to and pray,” said Ana Lora, who placed a model car near the name of her brother, Jose Francisco Lora, who collected cars. “This is something that, really, we need.”

The memorial marks years of effort to create a tangible remembrance of the crash, which killed all 260 persons on board and another five in the quiet Queens neighborhood where the jet came down. The National Transportation Safety Board eventually determined that the tail of the Airbus A300 had fallen off, and the agency blamed pilot error, inadequate pilot training and overly sensitive rudder controls.

The disaster jarred a city still raw and fearful after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center two months earlier. The loss also was felt heavily in the Dominican Republic, where Flight 587 was bound from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Many passengers were of Dominican heritage.

Designed by a Dominican artist, the $9.2 million memorial is a curved wall inscribed with the names of the dead. Cutouts, where weeping relatives placed roses, wreaths and photographs, provide a view of the sea.

“Your ideas and your memories have been woven into it,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told those gathered yesterday.

The memorial also was shaped by tensions over its location — a seaside park, rather than the residential street where the plane crashed — and some victims’ relatives were still coming to terms with the outcome yesterday. After the city-sponsored ceremony, mourners flocked to an impromptu memorial around a tree at the crash site.

For many, too, just remembering raised conflicting feelings.

“I feel good being here, but it’s very painful,” said Miss Lora. Her 43-year-old brother was on the verge of graduating from law school in the Dominican Republic when he boarded Flight 587.

She and many other victims’ relatives initially wanted the memorial built at the scene of the crash, about 15 blocks away in the Belle Harbor neighborhood. But many residents opposed the idea, saying a memorial wouldn’t fit on the residential block.

Others said they didn’t want a constant reminder of the calamity, especially in a part of New York City that had lost several residents on September 11. The city ultimately compromised on a spot off the Ocean Promenade, surrounded by shops and a condominium complex.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide