4 The Families


4 The Families



Four days after a plane crashed in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence, New York, claiming the lives of all forty-nine people on board and a man on the ground, WIVB-TV- Channel 4 presented a one hour special honoring the memory of those who perished.

“4 The Families” included eulogies from relatives and friends and the latest details on the crash investigation.

Colgan Air Flight 3407 was on its way from Newark, New Jersey to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Colgan Air was a regional company servicing Continental Airlines.

Shortly before the crash, the crew had reported a buildup of ice on the aircraft's wings and windshield. The Bombardier Q400 two-engine turbo-prop failed to recover from a stall and crashed into a house on Long Street in Clarence Center. Three people were in the house. A mother and her daughter were able to escape. The father did not survive. The accident occurred at 10:17 pm, about five miles from the Buffalo airport.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board would later attribute the crash to pilot error. Instead of pointing the nose of the plane downward and applying full power, the proper reaction to an aerodynamic stall, Captain Marvin Renslow pulled back on the control column pointing the nose upward causing the plane to pitch and roll. It quickly lost altitude and crashed.

Among those killed in the crash were Allison Des Forges, a human rights investigator and an expert on the Rwandan genocide, Beverly Eckert, named co-chair of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee after her husband was killed in the September 11 attacks, Susan Wehle, the first American female Jewish Renewal cantor, and jazz musicians Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett, who were en route to a concert with Chuck Mangione and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.




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The following program is a special presentation of news four.

And now News Four presents flight 3407 for the families

And good evening, everyone. I'm Don Postles

And I'm Jacquie Walker. They were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and some of the best friends you could ever ask for in life and the 50 people who lost their lives when flight 3407 went down and Clarence Center were also extraordinary people and Tonight, we celebrate their lives. First, Melissa Holmes looks at what happened. Melissa.

Every day we learn more about the victims of the plane crash and more about the crash itself. It could be weeks, months or even years before we know why flight 3407 went down. It could be even longer for those who mourn to heal. fitting for zero so 0.5 Continental flight 3407 Newark to Buffalo in that last conversation between the female first officer and the tower. The final approach to the buffalo now average national airport seems normal. But seconds later the bombardment a dash eight q 400. dropped off the radar was five miles out and all of a sudden it's always thought that aircraft only six miles from the runway like 3407 fell from the sky landing on a house in Clarence Center. 50 souls perished. The date Thursday, February 12. The time 10:20pm lives were forever changed.

To me it looked like the plane just came down in the middle of the house and unfortunately that's where he was.

I heard my mother making noise on the phone that I never before.

He took the earlier flight because he wanted to come home and say goodnight to the kids before they went to bed.

The flames went on for hours. When it was finally safe, Federal authorities began searching for answers through the black boxes. National Transportation Safety Board investigators determined the pilot turned on the planes de icing system. It was functioning but problems persisted.

The crew discussed significant ice buildup ice on the windshield and leading edge of the wings.

The plane was on autopilot but then the plane stall prevention system kicked in, giving control back to the pilot. That's when it began to pitch and roll. It's like 3407 plunged 800 feet in five seconds.

At memorial services throughout the community 1000s have gathered for prayers and for peace. individuals from all walks of life has become one through unspeakable tragedy.

We try to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves but today we love our neighbors because we realize that they are ourselves.

Thoughts and prayers from around the world are going out to the victims and their families. But for Western New Yorkers, we know the faces we know the names none of us will ever forget where we were when we heard flight 3407 fell from the sky.

It seems out of the wreckage and the deaths a solidarity has been born a unity that Western New York has never seen before. Dawn and Jackie.

Thank you Melissa. Well, the families who lost our loved ones I'm flying 3407 return to the crash scene this afternoon for the very first time.

It was for us George record is live tonight in Clarence center with more of that emotional visit today.

GEORGE-- Yeah, and it's hard to say just how much closure this may have brought for the families the scene is still there. It has changed though there is no recognizable debris obviously no human remains visible, but still for for about one hour today. Everything stopped as the families came to see up close for themselves, the spot where their loved ones spent their last seconds of life. It was about 1245 This afternoon, when six busloads of family members and friends of the victims rolled up to the crash site, as members of the public looked on from two blocks away outside the perimeter on Goodrich road and they get to closure out of it why I think it's always a good deal.

I can't imagine I mean, I love my family and to see something like that, you know, but I mean, I guess that's all they you know, that's all they could have left to see. So, you know, like I say God bless them and my heart goes out to them and their families.

The families spent about an hour there laying flowers just over the fence of the crash scene. Immediately afterward. A few designated members of the media were taken to the site, including only one TV camera and local radio reporter Barbara burns.

Initially it looked simply like a construction scene. There was a lot of construction equipment, bobcats cranes, and then once you got close as close as they let us in the end, we got within I would say maybe 2025 feet. You started to realize it started to set in you saw the tail of the plane. While I was there, a huge crane took away a large piece which turned out to be a big a big part of the engine of the plane. Just I mean you keep hearing this word over and over surreal and it is surreal.

And we will have more first hand accounts from people who have seen the site up close as you see behind me. They are keeping the perimeter enforced here probably at least until the weekend is what we're hearing. We'll have more later on this hour reporting live on Goodrich road and Clarence George Ricker news for

All right, George. Well, one woman aboard continental flight 3407 was pregnant with her first child. Family and friends of Jennifer Neal feel cheated, they tell news four's Rich Newberg they we're looking forward to seeing Jen experience the joy of motherhood.

34 year old Jennifer Neil and her fiance Todd Acker were anxiously awaiting the birth of her son. Jennifer perished in the crash, but everyone remembers her spirit.

A beautiful young woman with a big smiling face and just very caring about other people. She was a fantastic person.

Jennifer is remembered here at Women and Children's Hospital where she worked in the physical therapy department for a while she had a special way with the children she helped as the hours go on after we found out it's it's harder and harder.

Mary Pat Battaglia remembers Jen helping this child recovering from spinal surgery, Jen was able to help her, you know, get up on your hands and knees and crawl around a little bit. It's strengthening for these kids. Get up and kneel at the table, pull yourself up to standing and she was she could she could get these little ones to work. She could motivate them because it was fun and she was happy. Jen was having a good time. And so the kids were having a good time.

As a student at Clarence High School, Jennifer excelled as a musician and an athlete, a strong team leader. Jennifer believed that anything and everything she wanted to do in life was possible, said her family. Every person that she met in life was drawn to her by her grace and inner beauty that was immeasurable. Jennifer went on to work for a drug company positioning herself in the top 4% of national sales. Her parents said she is forever in our hearts and minds.

That was Richard Newberg reporting there now at age 24. Ellyce Kausner of Clarence was one of the youngest passengers on board flight 3407 and many knew her simply Elly but there's nothing simple about the second year law student who was filled with laughter and loved in life. News four spoke with one of the Ellyce's family members this afternoon now,

Before we got the full picture of the deadly crash before we knew who was on the plane and who wasn't. We heard one name at least counselor has loved ones put it all on the line to find her that fateful night. Today, hundreds of well wishers have been filling the clubhouse of Clarence's main park for at least his week to mourn the loss of a bright light cut short so suddenly and violently, just a few miles away. 24 year old Ellyce Marie Kausner or Elly as she was affectionately known, graduated from Canisius College and was in the second year of law school. As Ellie's aunt Nancy Houston put it her niece would have been great as a lawyer or anything she set her mind to

She was always the life of the party. I almost never saw her without a smile. Just just a fantastic young woman. It's impossible even to describe what the world has lost in in having her not with us any longer.

Visitation continues tonight. until nine with a memorial service set for tomorrow morning. The family is asking that donations be made to the Erie County SPCA. Donna Jackie.

Thank you, Alan. The crash of Flight 3407 has left that deep hole in the hearts of nine brothers and sisters from Buffalo

Mary Pettis was the big sisters who all of them the rock of the family. She was also engaged to be married for her fiance. The tragic events of Thursday were the worst possible ending to the love story of his life. Here's news four's Laurie Schultz

Family members of flight 3407 their shock and sadness as reality sets in. There are also many memories.

She was the friend that everyone wished they had. And she was the person that everyone wished they could be

Sue and her father brothers and sisters gathered to remember 51 year old Mary Pat is the oldest of the 10 siblings, a lifelong Buffalonian was a software manager for a health care company. She was returning home from a business trip to New York when the plane went down. Her grieving fiance says everyone who met her fell in love with her. They were to marry this spring . Dealing two days after the nation's first deadly airline crash since 2006. air travelers seem to brush away any fear of flying and boarded flights. However New Jersey's newer flight 3407 came from some passengers admitted that safety was on their minds.
Oh yeah,definitely. Yeah, pretty much. I mean, there's no way anyone can sit up there and say they're not thinking about that are easy. It's very nerve racking, and our son actually was in the area, and he would have taken that flight to Buffalo.

Bianca was to New York the morning continues. Mary's widowed father says it really hit him when his daughter wasn't there to bring it coffee as she did every day since the wife died. brought coffee every morning and quite a girl. But amid tears are beautiful memories far stronger than the haunting images of the doomed flight.

Thank you, Laurie. And by now, many of us have also heard the story of passenger Beverly Acker, like Mary Pettis, Beverly was also a pillar of strength for her family, displaying tremendous faith and courage, especially in the years since the 911 attacks, a tragedy that took a life of her husband, and she was returning home to honor his memory. Beverly Eckerd family who is trying to cope with tragedy for a second time her husband Sean Rooney was killed in the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center. She was coming to Buffalo to celebrate his birthday with her sisters and to award a scholarship at Canisius High School. In her husband's memory.

It was just laughter in her voice. We were just talking all the time over the week what we were going to do and how we were going to do it.

After 911 she became an advocate for the victims families. Now her family was pulling on her strength Ben to get through this now.

She said Shawn faced death with such calm courage. And it calmed her we were more visibly shaken in Beverly who said I have to be strong. And I watched her and I think that lesson what she did there is allowing us to follow I keep thinking How did Beverly do this? I know how she did this. And she gave us a gift because she did this already. She was not afraid of death. The family is reflecting on Beverly and her talents. There's the mug she made inscribed with the words do all you can in the time that you have. There are also paintings that she made for her sisters. The family believes she's now reunited with Sean

I think she's a peace and I she was not afraid of death. She-She looked at it as a way probably be reunited with Sean

Beverly lived life with vigor and determination. She was an inspiration for all who knew her there was no fence that was too high. There was no pit was too deep. They could climb over it, climb out of it together or individually. And she's just amazing.

Beverly achor was held in such high esteem not just by her family, but by the community and her classmates here at Sacred Heart are planning on honoring her this May with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Her life is over. But her legacy lives on. She was recently called to the White House to meet with President Obama, who was touched by her compassion for life.

Tragic events, such as these remind us of the fragility of life and the value of every single day. One person who understood that well was Beverly Packard, who was on that flight and who I met with just a few days ago. You see Beverly lost her husband on 911 and became a tireless advocate for those families whose lives were forever changed on that September day. And in keeping with that passionate commitment, she was on her way to Buffalo to mark what would have been her husband's birthday and launch a scholarship in his memory. So she was an inspiration to me and to so many others and I pray that her family finds peace and comfort in the hard days ahead.

And many other families also hope and pray for that same peace and comfort tonight
News four's Melissa Holmes is joining us again with more stories of lives lost Melissa

Zach Aidan they're the stories of for more Western New Yorkers who have left behind husbands, wives, children, and tremendous legacies.

Father, we pray specifically for the families the individuals that are grieving at this time.

The community is wrapping its arms around those families who have lost loved ones in the crash of continental flight 3407 We're learning more about them. There was 44 year old Don mana Keno our lives together were just being with each other being with being with family. And in our two dots. John and Michael had been married for 14 years. She and her co worker were coming back from a business trip with Schering plough pharmaceutical company when the plane crashed. Michael says he's being strong for her family and Clarence and in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

I can hold it together because, you know, I gotta I gotta let people know about this. There was Dr. Allison Des Forges;
The Chinese have a saying that if a marriage is too happy, it can't last too long. Just totally devoted mother, a totally devoted wife.

They were husband and wife for 44 years and had two children together. Des Forges was also a human rights activist and the world's leading expert on the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and its aftermath. She was returning home from London that fateful Thursday night. Her last conversation with her husband was about fearing the flight from Newark to Buffalo in the icy conditions.

She knew that it was going to be a rough ride. Unfortunately, she didn't know it was going to be in a plane which probably shouldn't have been flown in those conditions.

It is the hope of Roger Des Forges that his wife's legacy will live on and others inspired by her work. That may be one of the outcomes of this tragedy, that her moral power will be actually greater in death and it was even in life.

The family of Brian Kuklewicz is also mourning. He leaves behind his wife of 14 years Karen and their twin sons who will be celebrating their ninth birthday on Wednesday without their father. That shooter Walgett native who grew up on Buffalo's east side worked as an engineer for burns cascade. There was also Darren Talsma Lancaster, who was supposed to for a later flight,

he broke the earlier flight

tickets before they even

tells me it was traveling with three co workers from Northrop Grumman. His wife Robin admits he spent more time at work than at home, but his priorities were clear worked

for his kids. They are his pride and joy a

16 year old Nicole and 19 year old Darren know that West Act was an act of love so we can't complete

How will you stay strong.

Being an engineer, my dad was always obsessed with details and he came for everything and he always said you know if anything happened to me, he goes, You're the strong one. You're gonna be the one that's got to you know, put the take the burden on your shoulders.

A burden no child should ever have to bear

it's okay because you prepare to be

fine. Four completely separate lives now bonded together by tragedy. A community praying together love for healing for all

these things in your son's.

There was also Susan Whaley of Amherst. She dedicated much of her life to helping others heal through faith and music. She was the cantor at Temple back down in Williamsville and even recorded a CD called stones of healing and hope. The daughter of Holocaust survivors use her infectious spirit for life to reach out to people of all generations.

She had a tremendous ability to teach. She also had a tremendous love for life a zest for life, one that she shared with everyone she knew. friends

and loved ones remembered Wally during a special service at Temple Beth on on Friday. The impact she made on so many people there and across western New York also lives on tonight. Dawn and Jackie.

Thank you, Melissa and hundreds of Western New Yorkers from all faiths came together this morning to remember the 50 lives last Thursday night as far

as chill arena takes us now to a celebration of life and community in Florence.

For one hour, every one who packed the Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church and Clarence put their differences aside. That great sense today we are all one community, a community searching for one common ground closure. But even for those responsible for today's prayer service like Pastor Carl e slack. There were even times he didn't have an answer. Families need

to go on they need to walk on. I don't know how you do that.

Those words ring especially true for people like Joon Fisher, my daughter, three of them were here for them. Sad thing and I couldn't get over it.

In a hurry. That's for sure.

But Pastor Darius Pridgen says today's example of solidarity will help a great deal

for people to look beyond where someone lives or what his name is or what their background is to get to the point of saying we're all people and the loss of life touches us all,

even if most of whom attended the ceremony never knew those who are no longer with us.

One plane crash 50 lives but not just 50 Lies 50 unique souls

each represented by a rose placed in a vase before the altar by the brave firefighters who responded to the scene where they fell from the sky.

We've seen enough tears and heard enough cries of people to fill our sadness cup for a lifetime. There is not a person aboard that flight 3407 That is not one or two degrees removed from a person that I know

all listings to see God was then we're all victims families, people in the neighborhood even people just watch this tragedy unfold on television. All are feeling a sense of grief.

And the ways of coping with this can vary which is why we have invited Jen Henry for the life transition center of hospice to join us tonight. She's a grief counselor. So Jen, we thank you for joining us and you know, what should people be feeling people who really have no real connection to the tragedy? What are normal feelings?

I think everyone feels deeply about this. We all have experienced some sort of loss in our own lives. This is not unlike 911 other losses that our community and nation has known and so this reminds us that we're all vulnerable. You can't count on life always be the same from one day to the next. And should you acknowledge the feelings that you have that you may be you may be angry even you may be fearful upset,

angry fearful. You may actually not have any feelings being Nam, strange as it may sound is also a response. But any of those irritability, not being able to sleep not eating overeating. All of those--during the call first came in. It was said to be a small plane. And Lisa Flynn was out of the scene. She told us that her sources said maybe 50 people could be dead. And then we found out as we stayed on during the night that Beverly Acker was among those dead and all sudden, you find out at someone you know, and it takes your breath away, and then that's the shock. And then as the time goes on, you really start feeling the pain and the suffering for her family and for all the victims families.

Yes, that's right. So it will change over time. And there's no right or wrong way to feel no right or wrong way to grieve.

I'd like to know what you say to somebody now. I think each one of us in this community knows somebody somehow connected to this tragedy. If you know someone who lost a close loved one or someone they know on this plane, what should you say to them? Maybe you know, nobody knows what to say in these times.

You let them talk. You tell them you don't know how they're feeling. I mean, that's one thing sometimes we say I know exactly how you're feeling. Don't say that. We don't none of us do. You let them talk, share their feelings. And just be open and respectful. And I'm thinking of you I care about you.

That means a lot to for them to know that you really sincerely care about and you're thinking about it, there's nothing you can do that bring the person back. But how does a person know if they're in such deep grief? If they need to seek professional help? What are the signs?

Initially, it's very normal, the things that we've talked about but if these attitudes, outlooks on life and so on, continue for several weeks or several months, then it's time to begin to think about seeking help whether we're there interfering with your life where you're not able to sleep, or you're always irritable. You can't go back to work after a month or so. Then it may be time to see some time needs to pass here before you know if you're really in distress and you need counseling.

Yes, but you can still talk with someone now to help you through the crisis period.

Right. And having said that, we want to remind folks that we have gents co workers. They're a counselor standing by right now. At the life Transition Center. They are available to take your calls. The number is 83664608366460 is the number for counselors that are there right now and they'll be there till eight o'clock.

And if you have young children in your family, stay tuned and the next half hour John will have some important tools for helping them cope as well.

Very important to talk to the kids about this and we'll be talking to you in a little bit. Now. Jim, thank you so much. Hospice is also holding a special seminar to help this community cope with the tragedy of flight 3407. This will take place on Wednesday, coming up this week Wednesday from five to six and the hospice buffalo Education Center. This is located at Como Park Boulevard in Cheektowaga and Horizon Health Services is holding free support groups for the next four Saturdays from 930 to 1030 in the morning, that's at the Boulevard counseling center that's near maple road in the town of Tonawanda. And for more information you can call 8311800. You'll find all this on our website. We'll also repeat it for you a little later in the program.

Well, the only two survivors of this terrible tragedy were on the ground.

Karen Wielinski and her daughter Jill made it out of the burning house alive. Doug Wielinski did not. Here's news fours Lisa Flynn,

I happened to notice a little light on the right of me that tiny bit of light was.

Karen Wielinski's ray of hope she had survived the impact of the plane striking her long street home in Clarence center. Karen told WIVBTV and radio how she got out and then just kind of pushed what was me part of that often crawled out the hole.

Karen's 22 year old daughter Jill was upstairs in the front of the house when the plane hit she to miraculously survived and found an opening and when I got her I mean of course she wanted to know where her dad was. I didn't know and to me, it looks like the plane just came down in the middle of the house. Unfortunately, that's where Douglas Karen's husband

61 year old Doug Welinski did not make it out. Karen says Doug was in the dining room working on his beloved sports memorabilia when the plane hit the woolen skis are well known and declared school district or Karen's a secretary. Doug, an engineer is a Vietnam veteran who frequently came to the school to do lectures on Vietnam was students were always enthralled to hear his lectures. Just a vibrant, good person.

And the Clarence community and the school's Federal Credit Union have set up a fund for the Weilenski family. You can drop off your donations at the credit union office at 9145 Sheridan drive in Clarence or you can mail them to post office box 657 Clarence, New York 14031. Well, we all know that buffalo is a hockey town and Madeline Loftus loved ice hockey. In fact, she was on her way back to Buffalo for a reunion game with her old teammates at Buffalo State is news forest. Joe arena tells us that game went on in her honor, and it will for years to come.

From the opening faceoff to the final handshakes. This game wasn't about scoring goals. It was about a friend

The reunion game from now on will be Maddie's game.

Madeline Lynn Loftus never made it to the game, or had the chance to catch up with her friends and teammates this weekend. She was on flight 3407 Her friends played the reunion game today, but with heavy hearts and say there wasn't a moment Maddie wasn't on their minds, especially during the final minute.

All I could think of really was the final minutes for Maddie. And this is her game and just go as hard as you can because she would be going as hard as she could

Years earlier, while Maddie was still in high school in her hometown of New Jersey. Maddie proved how hard she could go by becoming the only girl on an all boys hockey team.

And whether it was a boys team or a girls team. She was going to succeed too, would have been thoroughly disappointed if we if we hadn't played today. And I think it was great that we got out there and you know, every other shift I mean she popped into my head the entire game and I'm sure everybody else out there too.

Moments after the game the players formed a circle, took a knee and lit 10 candles for Mattie's number. They prayed. They cried. And as a group held on to the little piece of Maddie left in all of them, as their task now is much more difficult than anything they could deal with at the office or on the ice.

All among the victims of the continental crash the entire crew, the flight crew of four and a young pilot who was off duty they all shared a deep love of flying. The crew included Captain Marvin runs low of Lutz, Florida first officer Rebecca Shaw from Maple Valley, Washington and Matilda concerto and Donna Prisco flight attendants from New Jersey. 47 year old Marvin Rennes Lowe, a husband and father from Lutz Florida was the pilot of continental flight 3407 hours after the crash, his pastor spoke up his deep faith.

They want you to know that their faith is that God is sovereign, that God is in control even when it seems everything is out of control.

Next to the captain in the cockpit. 24 year old first officer Rebecca Shaw, who was married. Her family says she had a passion for flying

She experienced loved. She experienced passion she experienced passion in life and in her career. She would walk in and everyone would be in smiles because you just couldn't help yourself because she was always so happy and so smiling and she loved her husband so much flight attendant 52 year old Donna Prisco from Randolph New Jersey had been a stay at home mother of four before she fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a flight attendant last June. She trained as a flight attendant with 57 year old Matilda Cantero, a breast cancer survivor who was also realizing her dream later in life.

And when she got her wings she was really excited. She just loved it absolutely loved.

That's the common thread binding the crew of Flight 3407 their family members say each was in the sky that night because flying was a profound passion. Each had worked hard to gain the wings so flight had the privilege of flying whether she was an amazing pilot, absolutely amazingly proud of your family as a family.
And that off duty crew member was Captain Joseph CIPA Leto.

He didn't live here in western New York at the time of the crash but he had strong ties to the area and he too will be sorely missed.

Chautauqua County airport manager Dave sanctuary is mourning the loss of an old friend.

It's just an absolute shame to lose a gentleman's such a gentleman so young in his life and so dedicated to his career.

Captain Joseph Zuffoletto, was a native of San Diego but was based out of the Jamestown Airport last year. Sanctuary says you'd often drop by to chat and check in on the weather and aviation science graduate of Embry Riddle University sanctuary says Zuffoletto, got his pilot's license at 17

You could tell that just from getting him to talk about an airplane and he was just starting to kind of glow.

When Zuffoletto, was reassigned to the Newark Airport, the 27 year old would hop on a plane to see his grandmother in Buffalo.

I understand that he would fly there when he had a short time off rather than trying to get all the way back to his home

Friends of Zuffoletto in the area are working to organize a memorial service for a man who is said to have quote a heart of gold.

Joe is was the epitome of what what you look for in a pilot he he cared deeply about his professionalism. He cared deeply about doing the best job that he ever could do.

And that was news four's Michelle McClintock, Ronald and Linda Davidson are returning to the southern tier after visiting a relative out of town. They dedicated their lives to helping others and as Milo's here says tells us the close knit knit community that they call home will forever be grateful.

Ronald and Linda Davidson, a husband and wife parents of three victims of a flight 3407 tragedy,
great grief for all of us. There's like a hole that I don't know if it'll get filled or not.

Sunday service at the couple's longtime spiritual home, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Westfield.

In this time of sorrow. Faith is the pillar of strength that is helping family and friends cope.
God take them to your heart and love them.

The Davidson's were returning home on plate 3407 After visiting their daughter,

It was very nice that they had seen all their children just before they left.

Linda was a nurse for 25 years. The Davidsons are remembered for giving back to their community. You see their calling went beyond Sunday services.

Ron was a volunteer in the soup kitchen on those days. Good good. Very funny man. And she would come in once a month. Take the blood pressure to clients in the soup kitchen that would come in and just awful nice people.

On Sunday, a chance for the community to remember and find answers in their beliefs.

To remember is is instead of pulling things apart, it's putting things back together the way they're meant to be a husband and wife, parents, friends.

It's right for us to grieve. We know where they are, but we miss them.

And looking forward to visiting relatives in Toronto a father a mother, their only child and his Aunt board a flight 3407 The four members of the Massop family of Bloomfield, New Jersey had delayed their vacation until they could get time off from work and school. Donald and Dawn Mossap 12 year old Shawn and Dawn's sister Ferris were active church members

They were God fearing loving, caring people. The type you would really want as friends.

Well two other members of the Masa family were supposed to take that flight but they decided to stay behind.

And two other passengers from New Jersey we're heading to Buffalo to share their musical talents with Western New Yorkers.

News Four's Trisha Cruz has their stories tonight.

Coleman Mallette was a 33 year old musician from New Jersey who just released his first CD in 2007. this VHS tape shows Clay Yarborough and a blue shirt back in the 1980s. Back then, he was playing at a coachmen Park concert in Clearwater where he played for power play. He went on to play at the ringside cafe in St. Petersburg with a band called taxi. Ron Reinhardt, a friend and fellow musician says music was Yarborough's Passion.

Clay was an excellent musician. Excellent, good reputation in the area. Some say he focused on music because of his traumatic experience in Vietnam. He was the most macho guy in the world. He was decorated Vietnam War grunt. I mean, he was he saw it all clay. Clay saw it all. And I mean, just there's nothing worse that anyone has seen that clay hasn't seen hadn't seen. And he was wounded couple times. I think he's helicopters crashed a couple times since then. Yarber didn't like flying but he did it anyway, on Thursday. He was one of 49 passengers who died when the commuter plane crashed and Clarence center so he would play said once he said, you know, he said he should be dead. He said he should have died in Vietnam. So everything since then has been gravy.

Reinhart says Yarber didn't worry about the small things after his close calls with death. He became a free spirit who lived through his music his music will now move on.
And the beat goes on. So many stories.

Really? Well. families of the victims were allowed to visit the crash site today for the very first time and after they left some members of the media were also allowed in use for storage records spoke with some of these media witnesses today, GEORGE?

Yeah, very few of even the media have been allowed in as you see the perimeter is still strictly enforced here. Most of us are kept a few blocks away. But here's a perspective from a few who have seen it up close.

I've visited the site on a daily basis. I've seen it transformed from a fireball in its first few minutes to smoldering pile to a coal pile and now the tear down of that pile and the analysis on it. Still to this day. I'm amazed at the compressed area that it's that it's encompassing, it's a very small piece of property. And then to have this huge tail section sticking out of the out of the ground is just it's staggering. It's amazing.

Mostly saw just what looked to be a pile of like dirt and rubble. We heard the word methodical from a lot of the investigators and that is exactly what I saw. They are going literally shovel by shovel. It's absolutely surreal, amazing to see. You know, we keep seeing over and over and over again. This plane hit one home, just one home and to see that. The most amazing part of it all was the steps to the front door still in place still intact, charred and burned, but still in place where they were when this plane went down.

That is the last place you know their loved ones were when they were on Earth. So like I said thinking of myself I understand when significance that location has. Its significant 25 years as a trooper and I've seen a lot of things and investigated a lot of even fatal motor vehicle accidents or things like that tragedies that have occurred that have involved people in you know, the magnitude of this one makes it different and you'll never forget it. My troopers never forget it.

It really does leave an impression on anybody who sees it a different impression for everybody. And again, it's hard to say just what impression or whether it provided much closure at all for the family, but they spent a good hour on site and we could see them from a distance moving by carrying flowers. They threw flowers over a fence as even though there was maybe not much to see any more at least represented the place where their loved ones spent their final seconds.

Well George I think for major Cummings to say that all the years that he's been a state trooper what he's seen that he's never seen anything like this tragedy.

Exactly. And I think the same could be said here in the media. I mean, I've certainly never covered a story that has affected so many people locally like this and you know, I'm sure you could say that, you know the same thing, just the it impacts everybody differently even if you didn't know somebody well, who was on that flight. It's buffalo. Everybody knows somebody who knew somebody on that flight.

George, I want to ask you the NTSB investigator has been talking about they're removing pieces of the plane from the scene and have already removed a good portion of it. Are you seeing any trucks going by or any of that wreckage as it's leaving that area? No, we haven't. I mean, we see construction vehicles moving in and out not often not necessarily trucks that might have a giant covered piece of wreckage, nothing like that. And we have been here all day. It's mostly just standard construction trucks. Of course in the middle of the day they paused all the work for the families, but I think they're really trying to respect the privacy of all of it and covering whatever they take away. We don't see dumpsters, we don't see any open things like that. And while I'm at it the you know, although we're being kept a few blocks away here. Dave Bissonnette at the Emergency Coordinator for Clarence is estimating that by this weekend, possibly all the streets will be opened by this weekend. He says possibly, except for maybe just that one block with the housing question.

But George, you spent all day in Clarence and I was just wondering what's the demeanor of the residents out there? They've been dealing with this since last Thursday night.

They believe it's being handled well. At least the few I talked to made a point of saying how well they think that the authorities are handling this and you know, we weren't treated like we're a nuisance as you know, sometimes you worry about disrupting the privacy of venue. We're right next to houses here, but we have been taken well here. And I've heard no complaints of the way any of this has been run.

All right, George record. We appreciate your observations from the scene tonight.

And as you can imagine, firefighters are among the first to respond to the fiery crash scene. Now
George spoke with a first responder who says the images that he saw Thursday night will be with him for the rest of his life. We had a job to doand we wanted to go and get it done. But volunteer firefighter way. Mahalik says nothing could have prepared him for a site like the crash of Flight 3407 He drove one of the ambulances for the town of Newstead to the scene that night. They quickly learned there were no survivors and when you're trained to help somebody and you can't help them, but like most firefighters, he didn't think twice about going back the next day to help with the recovery efforts. He shared the photos with us that he took from what he calls Ground Zero. Even now almost three days after the crash there is still a perimeter setup, keeping the public and the media a few blocks away from the actual crash scene. That's why Wayne's pictures bring us all that much closer to what most of us haven't seen, like the way the trees are sliced in such a way to almost show the path the plane took on the way down or the landing gear that sticks out from the top of the scene.

There's been those thoughts, you know, why am I doing this? Why do I put myself in this situation? You know, but that's there's more to life than just living it for yourself. I mean, we're all humans were meant to help each other and firefighters are human too.

And John Henry, who is a great therapist from the life Transition Center is here with us again, John, let's talk about those first responders. They gotta be dealing with a lot now they realize if they saw that ball of fire and then what was happening inside?

Absolutely. The concentric circle. I mean, it's like a ripple. Those people that responded initially, all the way out to people just living on the streets. And the neighborhoods in that community and then on out to the larger community and the nation.

So you would expect those first on the scene perhaps to be most affected. Even though you know as we heard major Cummings from the State Police say they see you know, death they see violence on a regular basis, but they've never seen anything like that not to the magnitude of this I mean, something like this that is so unexpected, a plane dropping from the sky. It's just there's no way that people prepare for this. And so it just is very distressing and yet you know, through the years, we've never up until this point, had a commercial aviation disaster in Western New York, but these first responders continue to have drill after drill through the years, and I don't care how many drills you have. I think when you come across the real McCoy, it's like a ton of bricks. This is it. We got a job to do but then you realize the emotional toll of what's going on to the victims. Yeah, and that's going to go away. I mean that I hope people know that. That's going to stay and need attention for months and perhaps years. Yeah, and counseling may very much be in order for some folks here. Now. Let's talk about children. Because they see it on television. They've heard they're hearing about it in school. A lot of them have parents who fly or they have been on airplanes or they even have airplanes flying over their house. How are children to deal with this?

Well, I think the first thing we really ought to talk about his let's let's limit their exposure to some of the stories and some of the discussions. I mean, as this unfolds, it may be quite inappropriate to have them know some of the details that are available. But on the other hand, having said that, it's important that when we do talk to them, we are clear and concise, confident with what we know and what we don't know. And give them accurate information in ways that they can understand.

And I agree with you the news is not for children and for small children. Don't let them sit there and soak it up. But Jen, we want to thank you so much. And we want to remind folks because we've been talking about counseling that we have grief counselor standing by right now. They will be on the phones up until eight o'clock tonight. They're at the life Transition Center. And they are available to take calls at 8366460 Jen we thank you so much. The number again is 8366460.

And on Wednesday, hospice is holding a special seminar to help this community cope with the tragedy of flight 3407. It will take place from five to six at the hospice buffalo Education Center. That's on Como Park Boulevard in Cheektowaga. No one needs to register you can just literally walk in and we'd like to let you know that horizon Health Services is holding free support groups for the next four Saturdays from 930 to 1030. At the boulevard Counseling Center, this is near maple road in the town of Tonawanda. For more information you may call 831 1800. You'll find all of this on our website wiv.com. And as Western New Yorkers work through their grief, federal investigators continue their search for answers. For more on that now we're going to head to Amherst and to our news for investigative reporter Luke Moretti, Luke.

Well, the reality is it could take many months before we know what caused this horrific plane crash. Investigators continue searching for answers. And that includes talking to pilots who were flying in the area that night.

We went on to ask him what I seen they experienced what flight conditions they experience and so forth. So we're putting out these questionnaires. We're putting them dispatchers we're gonna go out and start doing interviews of the accident dispatcher and and other folks involved with this. And this is again a process it's going to take place over the next several weeks.

Now as investigators tried to put together the pieces of the puzzle, they're looking at a lot of different factors and that includes icing. 53407 stripped a buffalo appears to be uneventful until its final 26 seconds we now know that 11 minutes after takeoff from Newark, the pilot in control turned down the aircraft's de icing system he left he left it on the remainder of the flight this is a very sophisticated de icing system on the Q 400. And he had an audit properly and it was working properly that as far as we can you know determine when the crew left new work. The weather was late to moderate icing in the Buffalo area. The visibility was three miles with snow in light mist.

It was really not a bad weather day and they chose to launch but recordings analyzed by investigators indicate the crew had commented about significant ice buildup on the planes windshield and wings. We know the plane was on autopilot, but was turned off when the plane stall prevention system kicked in. At that point, a terrifying sequence of events begins to unfold is the aircraft gyrates wildly in roll to the left 46 degrees now and then a roll back to the right 105 degrees.

Investigators say the turboprop planes rapidly falling 800 feet in five seconds. The pole inside the cabin was twice the force of gravity. As for how icing on the wings and windshield affected the pilots ability to control it in the final minutes is still unclear. However the NTSB recommends that the autopilot be disengaged in icing conditions so that you have the manual feel for what might be changing in your flight regime. Because of the ice.

But the FAA which regulates aviation has not yet made that recommendation a hard fast rule to say that they should not have been flying on autopilot is not correct. I mean, it's up to the airlines it's up to the FAA it has not been changed, you know become a rule yet. That you will disengage the autopilot. The NTSB

Steve ... says several airlines have changed their procedures when it comes to isin. What does the manufacturer of this particular aircraft say about that?

The only restriction that they see the manufacturer of this airplane and that they write about is that disengage the autopilot in severe icing conditions, but severe icing is something investigators haven't found yet based on pilot reports from other airplanes. Now investigators are hoping to be finished at the crash site in clearance by Wednesday afternoon. They're hoping to get done before a big storm moves into the area but they say they'll stay as long as they have to. And once again a final determination on this won't be known for many months to come. We're live in Amherst tonight Luke Moretti news for all right thank you, Luke. And one way or another this tragedy has had an impact on every person who calls western New York home that is so true. If you would like to send your condolences to the victims families, you can do so on our website wiv.com. You'll also find more information there about support groups and other places where you can turn for help dealing with such devastation.

And we want to thank you for joining us tonight as we remember the 50 extraordinary people who have touched so many lives. We're going to leave you now with the angelic sounds of the Clarence Senior High School chorus and the lasting images of a tragedy that has united this community and changed so many lives.

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