Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Long Island News Channel 12
September 6, 2001

Families Join Eyewitness Lawsuit

This is a scene that will be repeated many times this weekend as families of TWA Flight 800 make their way back to the ocean. 

Marge Gross who worked on Long Island for TWA for many years, lost her brother. Each year, she comes here to place 10 roses, 9 for the flight crewmembers she knew and loved, and one for her brother Andrew Krukar. 

Marge Gross, sister of Flight 800 victim said, "Like him to be remembered as a great guy, everyone says that about the dead, but he was a sensitive man, had a great vegetable garden and a fantastic flower garden and an even better sense of humor." 

Andrew, you may remember was the passenger who was carrying a diamond engagement ring to present to his fiancee in Paris, miraculously, the day after the 747 exploded, the ring was recovered and given to Julie Stuart. Marge though, is troubled by the government investigation conclusion, that the Boeing Jumbo Jet's fuel tank blew up on its own. 

Marge said, "I know those same voices wake all of us up in the middle of the night, 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning that something just is wrong, the government's explanation is wrong, and for me that voice keeps getting louder and louder." 

Financing for the official Flight 800 memorial here at Smith Point Park beach is nearly complete. To this day, TWA refuses to pay its share. As for the Flight 800 wreckage, it's still in a hangar at Calverton where relatives will visit on Sunday. 

“This time of the year, every year is difficult." Retired sales executive Dick Hammer of East Hampton, lost his wife Beverly on Flight 800, and his 29-year-old daughter Tracy who had a double doctorate in microbiology and veterinary medicine. 

Hammer said, “She was very special (Tracy). My wife and I were married for 36 years and again she was a very special person. As the headstone over there indicates she was a mother wife and friend, and those were basically her priorities. She was a mother first, a wife second, and a friend to everyone else." 

Unlike Marge Gross, Hammer is pragmatic about the mysterious explosion and what caused it. Still he chokes back tears when talks about the TWA disaster. 

"Someone of prominence asked me one time recently, Dick what would you like us to do? I said, bring em' back. He said we can't do that. I said I know and I think that sums up my view of the whole thing, they cannot bring them back," added Hammer. 

There were 230 passengers aboard Flight 800, 14 of them from Long Island. Legal sources say all but a handful of families have now settled their lawsuits with TWA and Boeing. While most accept the government conclusion that a spark from an frayed wire most likely ignited center fuel tank vapors, several families are joining a lawsuit against the government demanding release of eyewitness testimony and other evidence that they say could point to a hostile missile firing. 

"I will do this till the day I die, the truth's got to come out, when do I stop? When it’s my son, my husband, someone else in my family? No, this is a fight definitely worth standing up for and fighting definitely." 

The Transportation Safety Board says it will not comment on the lawsuit and defends its investigation conclusion dismissing hostile missile fire. Private memorial services are planned for the TWA families on Sunday and Tuesday. 

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