First Responders Recall Valujet Crash 25 Years Later – CBS Miami
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s been 25 years since Valujet Flight 592, which took off from Miami International Airport with 110 souls on board, was lost in the Everglades when the DC-crashed 9 minutes after takeoff.
In the memorial, erected a few years after the air disaster, some of the first responders came together to commemorate the people who had died in the tragedy on Mother’s Day weekend.
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“I happened to see a picture of the Everglades and a helicopter hovering over the Everglades and thought, ‘I wonder what happened’.” Jane Lathem said after seeing the pictures on TV.
She and her husband Warren would soon find out that their son Ray was on board and was returning to Atlanta after missionary work. When you think about his life, you have decided to celebrate the good that has emerged from such a terrible tragedy.
“A lot has happened in 25 years,” said Jane. “He came back from a missionary trip to Venezuela. As a result, we went to Venezuela. We founded a Methodist church there, a seminary, a clinic. We have many friends from Venezuela, our other son married a Venezuelan. As a result, we have four Venezuelan American grandchildren. There have been many blessings as a result, ”she said.
Willie Alvarez was the associate director of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue at the time.
“In my career we dedicate our lives to the living in order to save lives. This was an incident where from the first moment there was no life to be saved, ”Alvarez recalled.
His main focus was on educating families about what happened to their loved ones.
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Investigators found that improperly stored oxygen canisters ignited causing a massive fire and then the crash.
“When you think of a plane crash, you think of hoods and cockpits and an airplane, maybe in many parts, but you can picture the airplane. In this particular incident, the plane hit the ground at very high speed. It divided the swamp and the swamp covered it, ”he said.
Greg Kral has retired from the Miami-Dade Police Special Response Team.
“It smelled of fuel and death and that was my first impression,” he recalled.
He was one of the officers in the water who recovered the victims, aircraft parts and personal effects of those who died on board.
“A photo album was found and you realize that the person who had that photo album ended their life in an instant, in fact 110 lives ended in an instant,” he said.
Ray’s family has relied on their beliefs over the years to guide them through their darkest time.
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“We know where our son is. We know we’ll see him again,” said his mother Jane.