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Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 6:11 pm


I remembered a few months ago we had an excersise at GCI airport. Together with GCI apt and BA (wich have pulled out now) we simulated a crash. Actors were ont he aiport and we had to deal with it. There are special guidlines in BA for something like that.
But ofcourse it is nothing compared to a real crash.
Has anybody ever been involved with dealing with passengers and/or members of the public awaiting for a flight that would never arrive or a flight that had crashed on the apt with survivors?
I am rally wondering what your experience is in that. How do you deal wit it? What have you learned from it? I mean it can happen every day (hopefully not of course).

Please your story's if you have them. (at one point I do hope I won't get a reply as nobody wants to be involved in a crash).

"You should have gone to specsavers"
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 7:13 pm

I was part of an training on AMS/SPL a few years back. Great fun, I hit an MP and was arrested... just for training offcourse...

I had also booked some dangerous cargo on a MK flight that crashed two years ago in Nigeria (Lagos)... that was very weird offcourse. Suddenly a FAA officer on my telephone...

Soaring the internet...
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 9:01 pm

Years ago an Avianca 707 ran out of fuel while weather delayed arrivals into JFK. Crashed in Long Neck NY. I was off the clock when the word came thru that it was down. (Worked for Pan Am and we ground handled the aircraft).

Miserable experience my heart still goes out to the families. The media is nothing more then a group of vultures.

Later working in the RTW call center following the crash of Pan Am 103. We used to get a call from an angst filled angry man. Apparently he would get intoxicated and then the pain of the loss of his wife and children took over and he would call late at night or early in the AM and tear apart the reservations agents telling them "You killed my family" and generally going rapidly downhill from there with threats and intimidation following. Unfortunately, It was somewhat true the PA had led to the demise of the family. Again I felt his pain...

Nothing I like to think about, But, this is a business where every day this can happen. I am greatful to the Lord it does not happen often and the only solice is that they are in a better place now.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 9:09 pm

i am a flightattendant for a small european airline, which lost a plane last year on the way from berlin to their homebase. unfortunately 20 passengers and crews were killed in this accident.

when i first heard the news from the accident,i was just out of bed, as a family member called me to see if i was ok. i could not believe it, i was the whole time thinking that they made an emergency landing, after it was confirmed on the radio, that the plane was on fire and that it broke apart(which was only about 15 minutes after it had happened), i was thinking it is not one of our planes, it must be another airline...when i arrived at the scene, i was shocked to see that it was indeed one of our planes, and that 2 colleagues of mine died it that crash.

i can only wish to anybody that nobody of you has to go through such an experience, as it is very painful.

may god bless the victims

fly safely
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 10:16 pm

Back when the American Airlines Airbus A300 AA587 fell into Queens, New York, there was an member who had worked the gate on that flight, on that day. They mentioned some things about specific passengers, about non-revs who made it, didn't make it etc and the aftermath of it when the news filtered back to the airport. I am not sure the username, but it should be in the database
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 11:28 pm

I was working on the night when that TWA L1011 at JFK crashed (aborted takeoff). At the time, was a supervisor at MGM Grand Air and it was a long long night dealing with the delay and passengers. Just thankful it wasn't a fatal accident.

When the AA A300 went down, I called in sick earlier that morning and was home. Home being Rockaway Beach, NY. Saw the thick black smoke from my terrace. Without knowing (at that time) what it was decided to drive to the scene and got there before most of the fire/resuce units. Lets just say it was not very pretty.

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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Thu Jun 19, 2003 11:39 pm

We unfortunately lost two employees on 9/11. They were on the AA 757 that went into the Pentagon.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:32 am

January 31, 2000.

It's about 5:45 pm or so, and I'm in the home stretch of my ten hour shift as a reservations and Consumer Affairs supervisor for Alaska Airlines. It had been a boring, uneventful day. A few isolated irate callers here and there, complaining about change fees, etc. Nothing really out of the ordinary.

A res agent called me, saying that a customer was hearing news about an Alaska plane that had supposedly gone down. "Nonsense," I said. "We'd have heard about something like that long before the public would!" I figured it was probably what it always was; a small plane crash in the STATE of Alaska, but the person mis-heard the report. "I haven't heard anything of the sort, so don't worry," I told the agent.

Then another one called. And another. And another still. I looked around the cavernous office for any traces of the management team, finding them all huddled in a conference room with serious looks on their faces.

After coming back to my desk, I heard more rumblings. "People are saying it was a flight from Puerto Vallarta that supposedly had trouble," agents were saying. These agents, all Alaska Airlines employees, were getting this information fed to them by their callers who were watching CNN.

"This is getting out of hand," I thought. I started to log on to from my desk, and the following banner headline in red and white across the screen made my heart sink:


No way! It can't be. But there it was, in big block letters on CNN's website.

I frantically started checking all our flights from Mexico heading to the U.S. Every one seemed fine...until I saw the FLIFO display for flight 261, scheduled to fly PVR-SFO-SEA that afternoon.

The display had been inhibited. No one could access it.

By now, agents walking by my desk could see the headline from the CNN site. Some were crying. Most were asking questions that I simply couldn't answer. All of us were in a fog, trying to gather our thoughts, process what little information we had, and try to keep it together for our customers.

Knowing that CRC (Central Reservations Control) would lock out the passenger list in the event of an aircraft incident, I tried to access 261's name list. It had been inhibited as well.

That was when I knew for certain that something was terribly, terribly wrong.

Soon after, the management staff emerged from their meeting with somber looks on their faces. They began distributing the aircraft incident forms and walking everyone through the paces. Our CARE and CIRP (Compassionate Assistance Relief Effort/Critical Incident Response Program) trained employees began taking briefings directly from Corporate. Friends and family of the passengers were calling in by the hundreds. Agents took their names and contact numbers, and I began the horrible task of relaying the names of friends and relatives of those aboard to our Command Center in Seattle, who would have crisis counselors deliver the bad news.

The whole office was in a lockdown mode. Those who were scheduled to leave were now on mandatory overtime. Those who were scheduled to come in were now being called in to work early. The lucky few who slipped out before the lockdown went into effect told those who were just coming in to just turn around, call in sick, and go home. Some did. Most kept on walking and pitched in to help. The company ordered pizza and soft drinks, with management coming around to everyone individually, feeding people and asking if they needed help in any way.

About an hour into this horrible ordeal, I received a transfer from a res agent. "It's some guy, and he's REALLY pissed," she said. Upon speaking to the man, I discovered that he was a private businessman from Oklahoma City, and he has a personal 800 number for his family and friends to use. Apparently King-5 TV in Seattle had transposed the digits of Alaska's Flight 261 Hotline, and he had received over 200 calls within the last 30 minutes thanks to their broadcast.

After apologizing profusely, I called King-5 and advised them of who I was, and the mistake they'd made. The person I spoke with said they'd correct it immediately, and asked me to hold. Next thing I knew, a producer came on the line and said, "You're a supervisor at Alaska Airlines?" When I said yes and explained why I'd called, he said, "...soooo, how do you feel about going on the air to give us more details?"

It was at that moment that I truly understood why people hated the media so much. "No, thank you. Please wait for the press conference from our Corporate offices."

I finally left the office at 11:30pm, having worked a 13 hour day. I don't remember driving home; my car went into a sort of automatic pilot, and I literally collapsed into bed after walking into my house.

The next morning is when the full scope of what had happened really hit home. We had lost customers. Friends. Co-workers.

And through all of it, people STILL managed to be jerks. Wannabe funny guys would call asking agents if we had fares from Puerto Vallarta to "just outside Los Angeles." Shrieking, hysterical women would ask our agents "so, how many babies did you kill today?" People would ask for lower fares based on the fact that they were still willing to fly us.

But for the most part, people were sympathetic and supportive. America West Airlines sent a catering van to our office, along with a big card signed by every employee in their res center. Southwest Airlines sent goodies also.

American Airlines, in what I can only say was the single most impressive display of compassion and caring I've ever seen, ordered pizza for our company. THE ENTIRE COMPANY. Systemwide, AA prepaid for orders from Domino's Pizza and had pizzas delivered to every res center, CTO, airport ticket counter, and even our corporate office.

It was a traumatic, horrifying experience to deal with...but it also let you see people at their best, giving (as our company's "vision statement" attests) "A Work of Heart."
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 2:25 am

In almost 40years of aviation, both military and civil, I've had to deal
with the remnants of crashes. Investigation, telling the loved ones of
the crews that were killed that Hubby and Daddy weren't coming home.
Now that I'm retired, that is one aspect of my flying career that I
won't miss at all. Oh yes, those O-dark-early report times won't be
missed either.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 3:30 am

Unfortunately I have to deal with two seperate accidents on different
levels. When the USAir B737 landed on the Skywest plane at LAX,
the wreckage ended up directly across from the gate we were awaiting the
arrival of GA800 from CGK/DPS/BIK/HNL. We had a first hand viewing
of the after effects, burning plane etc.
When the GA A300 crashed in Medan I had to escort two of the remains
back to the family in PA...I never want to experience that again...
Cargo doesn't whine, moan, or complain
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 6:33 am

Thankx guys for writing this all down. Expecially the story of EACOAS. Personally I hope I do never have to deal with anything like this. But unfortunatly it happens. May all the people who have died in crashed rest in peace.
"You should have gone to specsavers"
Tom in NO
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 6:41 am

I was working in our Airport Communications office the day an Air New Orleans (dba Continental Express) Jetstream 31 crashed on takeoff at MSY. It was on May 26, 1987, he was departing runway 19 to the south, immediately following a TranStar DC-9.

Upon liftoff, he had some percieved engine problems, decided to set the plane back down, did so, but was going so fast he ran off the runway, through the asphalt overrun, through our boundary fence, then across eight lanes of traffic (the airport's access road and a major thoroughfare). Nobody was killed, but there were numerous injuries, some severe.

As I said before, I was in our Communications office, supervising our dispatchers, and listened to all the radio traffic between our airport fire department, police, security, paramedics, etc. About 30 minutes after the accident, I was asked by the airport manager to bring out my camera and a bunch of film (anybody who knows me, and he did, knows I keep my camera in my desk at work), and shoot rolls of film of the Jetstream and the accident trail. I recall I shot about 4 rolls, took them to the local 1-hour photo developer, and brought them back.

I also assisted in coordinating with getting the NTSB into town to start their work.

As a Ops-type employee, I was asked to attend each of the NTSB's daily briefings (there were 3 days worth), and I actually helped the NTSB in locating the area where the Jetstream's nose wheel collapsed in the course of the accident (the beginning of prop strike marks in the grass were the giveaway.....grass that was struck died, which was the clue).

BTW, the NTSB's ruling on the crash blamed a lack of crew coordination resulting in a failure to comply with checklist items which would have avoided the crash.

Tom in NO (at MSY)
"The criminal ineptitude makes you furious"-Bruce Springsteen, after seeing firsthand the damage from Hurricane Katrina

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 6:42 am

Sep. 11th 2001.

At that time I was employed with American. We knew of a flight Attendant on flight 11, and A friend of mine knew the Captain of flight 11.

That day was hell.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 7:15 am

I was working at Swissair here at Sao Paulo when IWF crashed off Peggy´s Cove..

It was terrible.. and to make things worse, as I flight dispatcher I used to know the pilots, and CMD Zimmerman was even the captain of my first "real duty" flight after training..

"ad astra per aspera"
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 7:19 am

I am a friend of a family who lost two people in the Southern 242 crash.

I have heard numerous things about this accident from my family and here is my story. This is 100% true. In order to insure privacy I will use fake names.

That morning John and Lisa got to the airport and were checking in when Lisa told John that she had a bad feeling about the plane. The said that the night before she had a dream in which their plane crashed. But she didn't say anything until that moment because she didn't want to make a scene. But now it was bugging her and she just did not have a good feeling about Southern flight 242. She said she had a premonition of the plane crashing. So John said that they would just rent a car and drive to their destination. They went to the nearest rental agency and decided to rent a car and just drive.

John called his niece and told her of the situation and said that they were going to drive. The niece said she would see them later then, and she won't plan on picking them up at the airport.

Upon arriving at the rental agency desk the agent told them that they did not have any cars available and that John and Lisa would have to wait a day to get a car. Lisa told John that she didn't want to do that and said that she was just being stupid about her premonition. She told John lets go to the gate and get on the plane. John said Okay.

John returned to the phone and dialed the niece again. He informed her that Lisa just wanted to get on the plane because of the car waiting length. The niece said good-bye and would see them at the airport.

John and Lisa boarded with the rest of Southern 242, and left.

The plane did crash and John and Lisa parished along with the other 60 souls.

The sons and daughters attended the I think 1 year memorial service for the lives lost. One of the sons talked to one of the survivors where the survivor told the son that he remember John and Lisa. He told him how instead of being afraid as the plane went down onto the town of Hope that John was being his usual comedic self and making jokes to lighten everyone's spirit. This is truly according to my family how John always was.

The son also talked to one of the neighbors where debry ended up in one neighborhood. She told him that she was inside her house and heard a boom. She walked out her front door where she found a row of seats on her lawn with passengers burning alive in their seats. They couldn't get unbuckled. She grabbed a garden hose and sprayed people off to get the fire off of them. She ended up saving a few lives. Though John and Lisa were not as fortunate to have such a woman where they were.

May God Bless the Lives and Souls lost on Southern 242.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 9:30 am


In reference to your crash, I remember reading they were on a phone patch with Maintenance Control in EA / KSEA), USA - Washington">SEA when they lost it completely. Speaking as a Maintenance Controller myself, that is my biggest fear when dealing with phone patches - that I'll be on the line, trying to talk the crew through a situation and help them out, when they lose the aircraft. I cannot imagine the hell that Controller went through those last few minutes! VERY sad! ;-(

As far as my own experience, having been in the industry since 1977 and being aroun it my entire life, I have been involved in many mishaps and a few crashes. It's never any fun - especially when you know the people involved and it's a fatal crash. Air Florida 90 - DCA, Pan Am 727 - MSY, Pan Am 103 - Lockerbie, Pan Am - Hijacking in Karachi, Air Florida - PAP (landing accident - Non-fatal), just to name a few! I was also on duty in Maintenance Control for Carnival the night that TWA 800 went down. We used TWA-JFK as our maintenance and ground handlers in JFK so we go word on it pretty early on.

MxCtrlr  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Freight Dogs Anonymous - O.O.T.S.K.  Smokin cool
DAMN! This SUCKS! I just had to go to the next higher age bracket in my profile! :-(
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 10:09 am

Like MxCtrlr said, when you have been in the industry for a while, you've been around it. My husband and I have been with the industry since 1971. We've experienced National in Pensacola Bay, PAA's MSY(that was a former National crew, we had just merged) and of course Lockerbie(I've told all here before that I was scheduled for that flight, but was on sick leave). None of it is pleasant, it is just something that somehow you get used to and accept as part of the job. I'm sure all of here have in one way or another gone through the experience, whether first hand or by a relationship with another.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 10:23 am

I never had to deal with one in my 18 months as a rampers, but I knew people that had dealt with VJ592 and EV529, and heard stories about those incidences. One of the guys that trained me @ ASA was part of the team that went out to crash site of EV529 to retrieve luggage, and told of how sad it was to see the site. I knew people when I worked @ AirTran that were working @ ATL on the day of VJ592, and they told me how crazy it got around there that day, pilots refusing to fly and turning in their wings, passengers refusing to fly, sick individuals calling up reservations and asking for a ticket on 592 nonstop to the Everglades. I'm glad I never had to deal with any of this stuff, I don't think I could have worked for some time if I ever had to deal with the aftermath of a crash.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 10:58 am

A couple of years ago on a clear sunny morning a small chartered Metroliner was taking a group of about 15 GE Hydro employees to an Ontario town from Montreal Dorval.. The wheel caught fire on take off and slowly began to burn through the aircraft. Within 15 minutes the plane, seconds away from a safe emergency touchdown at Mirabel, lost it's left wing, flipped over and exploded killing everyone on board. Our company sells goods to GE Hydro and everyone on the plane were contacts to people in our office... When the news hit our company it was devestating for everyone.. Many had just spoken to some of them the day before and the shock of their deaths stunned everyone in our company.. surely the saddest day I can recall at work.. It's amazing how fragile life can be.
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 11:47 am

The worst part is, when you work with those who fly all the time, and they are involved in a fatal crash, listening to the CVR later and hearing their voices on the tape. I experienced that with QH90 in DCA. The F/O, Roger Petitt, was someone I spoke with quite often working in Passenger Operations at MIA. He always had the cheeriest voice on the planet and no matter how bad you day was, his voice seemed to brighten it up some. To hear that same cheery voice saying "Larry, We're falling. We're stalling." just seconds before impact with the 14th Street Bridge, was quite unnerving indeed!

The other issue is the a$$holes who think its funny to call into reservations and "book flights 1/2 way from Washington to Tampa" or "from Washington National to the 14th Street Bridge". I know, we in the industry try to cope with black humor but not in the immediate aftermath of a crash and not anywhere near that callously! Grow up!  Pissed

MxCtrlr  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Freight Dogs Anonymous - O.O.T.S.K.  Smokin cool
DAMN! This SUCKS! I just had to go to the next higher age bracket in my profile! :-(
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RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:05 pm

Not me personally, but a fellow co-worker of mine at Vanguard...very nice man named Morgan...was the lead gate agent for Pan Am 759 which crashed on takeoff from MSY due to wind shear in July, 1982. All 150+ passengers onboard the Boeing 727-200 "Clipper Defiance" perished. He spoke about it a few times...obviously time had healed him somewhat...but I could see in his eyes that it still tormented him. He actually closed the aircraft door and backed up the jetway away from the trijet. I can't even imagine what those first few hours...days...and even months....must have been like.

Steve in New Orleans
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Joined: Mon Jul 05, 1999 8:40 pm

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 3:10 pm

EA CO AS, well written. I remember that day very very clearly. In addition to the crash it was the day my wife's grandmother died so it sticks with us.

The media really did make a hash of it didn't they, they always do. I remember either reading or hearing it (can't remember which now) but one outlet reported words to the affect of, "thankfully the flight wasn't full." What a disgusting piece of journalism that was, it doesn't matter if it was only a ferry or repo flight and it was just the pilots that died, a life is a life. That really made me sick. And then USA Today ran that despicable cartoon...horrible.

Seeing the video footage of a very familiar (from countless NonRev trips) colored blue seat cushion and one of those scripture verse cards you get with a meal floating on the ocean gave me a shiver. With our companies obviously close like a family it hurt us just as bad.

John Kelly handled the entire thing from crash to his retirement with dignity and respect, even with the NTSB using such unprofessional phrases like "shoddy maintenance". I remember him saying something like, "it doesn't matter if it was Boeing, the jackscrew manufacturer or whoever's fault. The point is Alaska makes a promise to their customers to get them from point A to point B safley and we did not do that, it's our responsibility."


[Edited 2003-06-20 08:12:14]
Posts: 259
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 2:49 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 9:44 pm

I lost a friend on board the AA DC-10 that crashed in Chicago years ago. Two weeks previous to the crash, I was in France. I was walking down the street when I saw a large headline and picture showing a DC-10 veering down and missing an engine. I'll never forget the chill I felt seeing that photo. When I returned home some friends met me at the airport and told me about our friend who had died on that plane. That is one of the few times I felt like throwing up from shock.
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 9:57 pm

Officially no.

That is because my one occasion into a plane going off into the grass, was officially determined to be an "incident"

At this time I will refrain from discussion the incident farther.
MD-11 forever
Posts: 550
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2001 12:15 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Fri Jun 20, 2003 10:50 pm

To have a company airplane crash it something one can't understand until one actually experiences it.... I will remember for the rest of my life, what I did when I heard about the crash of Swissair flight 111 off Nova Scotia. I just left the shower, when I heard the news on the radio.......I knew one of the F/A's (not that close tough). Especially, as working in a maintanance facility, it feels scary when you know that some parts you handled actually are now lying on the ocean ground and might have caused the death of 229 innocent people. The whole scene at work at this very day was kind of surrealistic, nobody actually worked a lot, everyone was listening to the radio, trying to get the latest news about what happened. As a Maintenance person, you just wanted to know, did I contribute to the crash? Really horrible, and actually I hope I never have to face such a situation again!!

Cheers, Thomas
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Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2001 10:58 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Sat Jun 21, 2003 12:58 am

I was working at an FBO at Miami-Dade's Tamiami Kendal Executive airport several years ago. We did flight training in addition to fuel, maintenance and hanger rental etc. One otherwise ordinary afternoon while I was working at the counter an instructor and student prepared to do a cross-country. We did the regular pilot chit-chat about the weather and which aircraft they would be using, then off they went- they never returned.

We got a call from the FAA saying that their 152 had crashed after a touch-and-go at a small airport on the Gulf Coast. Both pilots dead. Very very sad for their families; also to realize I was the last person they ever spoke to face to face.

It was eventually ruled pilot error, bad flap setting as I recall.

I will never forget that afternoon.
Graham Hitchen, KMIA
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Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2000 10:36 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Sat Jun 21, 2003 3:07 am

Like EA CO AS - I was just wrapping up my shift as an IT ticketing lead at Horizon Res in Seattle. I'd just signed out of the phone and was coming around the partition towards the Operation's lead's desk when I overheard one of the ops people say, "It went down"? Something in the tone of her voice and the look on her face said she wasn't talking about SABRE. At the same time, I noticed three res agents standing at their stations frantically waving their arms trying to get someone's attention. I really don't remember the next few minutes - I just remember being incredulous, trying to understand what had really happened, and the looks on the res agents faces.

Then the training kicked in. We pulled out the disaster kits that had been prepared, each with detailed instructions on next steps, who was responsible, etc. Even though it was our sister company that had lost the plane, AS and QX are very closely tied, and we knew we'd be getting calls and our agents would have to cope.

Next came word from AS as to the procedures for handling inquiries. Within a very short time, the mileage redemption center down the road was converted to the emergency center. Phone lines were activated and all AS and QX people who had been trained to handle incoming and outgoing inquiries were asked to report. I was one of those people. For the first two hours we took inbound calls, and gave out what little information we had. Yes a plane had gone down, yes it was flight 261 from PVR, no we don't know how many, if any survivors, nor do we know casualties, no I'm sorry I can't release passenger information. People who knew or thought they had family on the flights were the difficult ones. You could feel their fear anguish and you wanted, above all else, to reassure them, but you couldn't. All you could do was take their contact info, be sincere and let them know you cared.

Through it all the leads at the command center were circulating among us, giving us the latest updates as soon as they had them. Food was ordered, counselors were on stand by if we needed to decompress, and we seemed to have things under control.

Then the bad news started to come out. No survivors, full families wiped out, the names of children, etc. At about 9PM, a handfull of us were pulled and given rosters of names, sorted by alpha, of passengers that we'd not yet been contacted about. It was our job, using the international traveller data collected in the PNRs at booking, to attempt to make contact with next of kin and advise them of the situation. I had four names. I spent the next three hours making calls to people with the most horrible news you can deliver. One person had no traceable next of kin, one knew but had been avoiding calling us hoping it wasn't true, and two I was the first they'd heard from. After those calls were done, we went to work recontacting families and connecting with their assigned CARE team members - other AS and QX staff that had been specially trained to work one on one with family members after an accident. Many of the CARE team members would spend the next two to three weeks living in a hotel and working daily with the families.

I went home at 4AM and collapsed. I slept till noon then went back to work at QX res. By then we knew the names of the AS and QX employees who were on the flight. We had one from res.

Like EA CO AS said, most folks were supportive, or at least sympathetic, punctuated by the occasional a$$. The whole 9 -10 day period is a hash of blurred memories intersperced with some very vivid memories. I'll never forget those four names, nor the conversations I had with their families, but I couldn't tell you what I did beyond work, sleep and eat for the next few days. One of the last calls related to the crash, and the one that left me the most emotional, occured a week later. An agent transferred a call through, she didn't know why, but the caller insisted on speaking to a lead. When I got on the line, the woman at the other end said, "I know you all are going through a tough time, and I know you've lost friends and coworkers. I just want you to know that there are those of us out here that are including you in our prayors as well, please let eveyone know we care." Then she hung up.

I was always proud to be an employee of the Alaska Air Group, but during the aftermath of 261, the employee actions, at both AS and QX, reset the definition of corporate compassion and corporate responsibility. From John Kelly down, we cared, and we did what we had to do to make it right, for the families, the employees and the public.
"The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity"
Posts: 2514
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2002 7:40 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Sat Jun 21, 2003 7:01 am

"The other issue is the a$$holes who think its funny to call into reservations and "book flights 1/2 way from Washington to Tampa" or "from Washington National to the 14th Street Bridge". I know, we in the industry try to cope with black humor but not in the immediate aftermath of a crash and not anywhere near that callously! Grow up!"

I believe the incident you list refers to the infamous call made on the air by radio personality Howard Stern in 1982 in the wake of the Air Florida crash in D.C., a bit that got him fired from his Washington gig. Although still a Stern fan, I say this was WAY out of bounds and something he should apologize profusely for. This kind of tragedy should NEVER be fodder for humor.  Pissed

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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2001 6:21 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Sat Jun 21, 2003 9:49 am

Yes, but my job was not aviation related.

I worked for a small lawncutting company in the Detroit area and a small Cessna 172 size aircraft tried to take off from Metatal Airport in Canton Michigan which was about 2-3 blocks south of our home base. The boss was down by the curb getting mail when the Cessna 172 sputtering on take off nearly misses him by about 20 feet and crashes into a field next to our shop. I was inside the garage at the moment and didnt see it, but I heard the crash and several of us ran out with fire extinguishers as with many other workers from nearby businesses in this little industrial complex. I think there were three people on board and two survived if my memory serves me correct.
Posts: 3784
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2000 8:22 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Sat Jun 21, 2003 9:59 am

Working on Houston in NYC, I was talking to a co-worker as I saw the AA 767 slam into the building. Shocked, I watched only to see a few minutes later, the UAL flight too.

Sad day for me.
Some see lines, others see between the lines.
Posts: 2121
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 11:31 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Sat Jun 21, 2003 12:02 pm

Not actually one of my experiences but i thought i'd add it nonetheless. After UA 232 DC-10 crashed at Sioux City the flightcrew were critically injured. In fact 2 of the pilots were very close to dying. What astonished me was all the pilots were back at work within 3 months i think it was.
Posts: 1943
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2001 4:57 pm

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Sun Jun 22, 2003 1:23 am

Hey Srbmod - I was in Atlanta, in the crew room, the day of the ValuJet crash, and I assure, pilots were NOT "turning in their wings and refusing to fly"... it was crazy around there, of course, but because of grief and loss, not because crewmembers were suddenly afraid to fly.

Posts: 425
Joined: Sun May 25, 2003 9:40 am

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Mon Jun 23, 2003 8:22 pm

This isn't a big plane crash but a small one. A few days before Christmas last year I was out doing my normal fueling gig for UPS at RFD on third shift. It was then that we learned that a Cessna Caravan that was operating as a feeder for UPS crashed on final about 2 miles from the end of the runway. The pilot was killed and it was just a glummy day after that.

Posts: 435
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2002 3:57 pm

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:37 pm

July 26, 2002 FedEx 722...

... I was the wx observer on duty... The last two hours of my shift were the longest ever after that incident...
ASOS... Another Shi#y Observation Station
Posts: 3874
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2002 10:43 pm

RE: Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Crash At Work?

Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:57 pm

Well thankfully, everyone was ok in the FedEx incident, if I recall correctly.

Was a nice place though. Pilot error in the end also, right?
Phil Derner Jr.

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