Local News

Plane Crash Victims Remembered At Memorial Service

Posted December 10, 1999

— On Saturday, victims of Raleigh Durham International Airport's deadliest plane crash were remembered.

Five years ago, American Eagle Flight 3379 was on its way from Greensboro when it went down just four miles from RDU.

The pilot, co-pilot and 13 passengers died. Miraculously, three people survived. Those, who did not make it, were memorialized at a ceremony.

A peaceful clearing marks the spot where 15 people lost their lives in a plane crash.

"It just helps in the process of healing," said Jeffrey Josefson, whose mother died in the plane crash. "The days get better. At first, it was real tough, but you know time's a great healer."

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled the pilot was to blame.

Captain Michael Hillis had flunked several flight tests, colleagues questioned his skills and he'd been forced to quit one airline. However, he found a spot at American Eagle.

The family members of the victims are still getting over the crash. Many of them have been keeping in touch over the last five years.

Jim Boltz, pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church, conducted the memorial.

"Certainly, there's a bonding that occurs to people who have gone through a common experience, and also the returning to faith and recognizing that we don't heal from these things by ourselves," Boltz said.

Jeffrey says even though things are getting better, some degree of pain remains.

"It's there every day though," Josefson said. "We miss Mom, and with each air crash, it brings back everything all over again."

American Eagle's parent company was held responsible for the crash. The Josefson family was awarded $600,000 for the wrongful death of their mother, Pauline. Reporter: Lynda Loveland

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