Victims mourned as families wonder what could've been

July 18, 2008
As relatives gathered yesterday at Smith Point County Park to mark the 12th anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 800, they talked about the way the world had changed since that terrible day in 1996.

Many agreed that the 230 victims would be surprised by life in the summer of 2008 - by the positive developments as well as the negative.

Larry Gustin, 52, of Tampa, Fla., thought of his mother, Anne, who had cataracts.

"She would like all the new medical technology and new procedures and therapies used today," he said.

Twelve years. When the Boeing 747 crashed, the average price nationally for a gallon of gas was $1.31.

Just before 8:31 p.m. yesterday - the time of the aircraft's explosion - relatives read the names of the victims, then paused for a moment of silence under a darkening sky streaked with pink. Friends and family members took 230 white carnations, touched them against names etched on a black granite wall, then dropped them into the sea.

Ann Gabor, who flew in from Pleasanton, Calif., near San Francisco, reminisced about her son, Dan, 27, a graduate student who had been studying geology. He was fascinated by the way he could chart climate change through tree rings. Back then, nonscientists didn't discuss global warming.

"He would have been appalled at the polar caps melting," Gabor said. "I know he would have been in tune with Al Gore."

Twelve years. That fall, Bill Clinton became the20first Democrat re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt.

Karen Grossman of North Woodmere thought of her niece, Wendy Wolfson, 16, who was aboard TWA 800 on a school trip to France with her mother, Eleanor, a chaperone.

She was thinking about how Wendy, who won a Penn State essay contest while she was a teenager, would be around to chronicle all these changes. She would be 28 now. "Wendy would probably be a professional," Grossman said, "maybe a magazine editor."

Twelve years. The hot song that summer was "The Macarena." Tickle Me Elmo was the biggest-selling toy.

Oliver Krick, 25, was Flight 800's flight engineer. The brother of a pilot and the son of an airline captain, he got his pilot's license before he got his driver's license. Yesterday, his mother, Margaret, of St. Louis, recalled how Oliver spent his free time mountain biking.

If he were alive now, he'd delight in the portable GPS devices available for hikers and bikers. "He loved freedom," she said, "but he'd use today's technology to simplify his life."



  Evidence of a Missile

  Flight 800 Database

Flight 800

Poll Results

>1000 Respondents

  Missile-------- 80%


  Bomb --------  4%


  Fuel Tank --- 14%

Support This Website with a Donation:
Copyright © 1998- 2008 Robert E. Donaldson - All rights reserved