Memorial marks five years since Continental Flight 3407 crash

Updated: 02/13/2014 12:13 AM
Created: 02/13/2014 12:08 AM WHEC.com
By: Lynette Adams

It has been five years since Continental Flight 3407 crashed in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence, killing 50 people and devastating a community.

Wednesday night there was a memorial service to honor the victims and to say thank you to those who poured out their love and support to the victims' families.

This commemoration is bittersweet.

Some of the victims’ family members worked tirelessly and successfully got the federal government to pass new laws, making flying safer for all.

News10NBC spoke with a woman instrumental in helping to get the laws passed and a local resident whose sister died in the crash.

Wednesday night's service ended at the crash site in Clarence. But the service was not only about the past and what happened five years ago, but also about the future, a safer future for all airline travelers.

"We say God has a plan and everything happens for a reason. It is a sad memory why it had to happen. But I think it has proven that it's been long coming and it totally is changing the flying public. We're doing this for safer skies for everybody. So one level of safety is all we want," said Ruthanne Stilwell, Webster Resident

There isn't a day that goes by that Stilwell doesn't think of her baby sister Mary Stilwell. But in the five years since her sister was killed and the crash of Continental Flight 3407, she's come to see some positive out of something so horrible.

That positive is the bond she's developed with some of the other people at the memorial Wednesday night. She calls them her family.

But she's also referring to Public Law 111216. It is a 16 point law passed in 2010 that raises the safety standards that all airlines must adhere to, making flying safer. It covers everything from training of the flight crew to the kind of records airlines have to maintain.

So while this was a solemn and somber memorial, there was also an air of celebration, a celebration of the 51 lives lost in Clarence. They weren't in vain.

Susan Bourque lost her sister Beverly, a prominent 9/11 widow who fought for tighter national security. Bourque picked up where her sister left off.

"Beverly was still working on national security issues when she died in the plane crash. So we had an example in our family of how ordinary people can accomplish quite a bit if they're organized and they know that they're doing the right thing," said Bourque.

Again, the service ended in Clarence at the sight of the crash. It ended with the reading of those 51 names of the 51 people who lost their lives there five years ago.

To read the Public Law 111216, click here.

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