Crash Landing in California Reignites Fight From 3407 Families

9:57 AM, Jul 8, 2013   |    comments
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CLARENCE, N.Y. - Jennifer West didn't watch the news this weekend.

She never watches the news, not after Flight 3407 crashed into a house in Clarence Center in 2009 and killed everybody on board, including her husband, Ernie. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Ernie's life ended at 54 and his daughter will grow up without her father because the pilot made an error when the plane began to stall.

48 other people died on that plane. One person died inside the house. "Awful, awful scene in Western New York," the national commentators said during breaking news coverage, while video of flames and destruction rolled.

On Saturday, it happened again.

For the first time since Flight 3407 crashed, an airline accident resulted in a fatality this weekend when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 made a crash landing at the San Francisco International Airport. Two people died. Hundreds went to the hospital. Video of the utter destruction played on every single national media outlet.

This is why Jennifer West doesn't watch the news.

"Because of stuff like that," she said.

But it didn't take long for word of mouth to inform her there'd been another plane crash.

"The whole thing is horrendous," West said.

Flight 214 was an international flight from South Korea to San Francisco. It was not a regional flight, like Colgan Air Flight 3407. When West and other victims' family members lobbied Congress incessantly in Washington and helped pass 2010 legislation to enhance airline safety measures, it was a major victory for regional airline reform, but the FAA has not yet fully implemented those measures.

That's the final push for West and the rest of the 3407 families. The law has been signed, but the desired effects have not yet taken place at the bureaucratic level. It may not necessarily have an association with a crash from an international flight, but Flight 214 is a symbol for West.

"This is ridiculous that four and a half years later, we're still fighting for this," West said. "I don't know why it's taking them so long to realize that this could happen any day, and this is another example of that."

According to a website created by the families of Flight 3407 victims, they're still waiting for a few airline reforms involving hiring and training of pilots to take effect. They claim that deadlines have been missed, and although new deadlines have been set for August and October, they're beginning to grow impatient.

"Until this gets implemented," West said, "There's always a chance it will happen again. It's a fight you never let go, because it's the only thing you can hold on to."

It is unclear why the Asiana Airlines aircraft crashed on Saturday, but Bloomberg News has reported that South Korea sent eight investigators to San Francisco to help make that determination. Much like the investigation into Flight 3407, experts will examine the evidence, listen to cockpit audio and spend hours upon hours getting to the bottom of the crash. And it could start a national discussion in South Korea as to how to keep planes safe in the air.

It's a different discussion than the cause the Flight 3407 families are fighting for, but more than anything, Saturday's crash sends a message.

"It's a bad way to bring awareness," West said. "but maybe it'll light a fire."


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