On Tuesday night, Margaret Eckert of Springfield will read aloud the names of those killed 10 years ago on a plane that crashed just minutes before it was supposed to land in Buffalo, New York. Among the list of names is her big sister Beverly Eckert.
“I am honored to be asked to be one of those who will read the names of the victims at the vigil on Tuesday night at the crash site at the time of the crash, including my sister’s name,” said Margaret Eckert.
Family members will gather in remembrance of the victims of Continental Flight 3407. To recognize the 10-year anniversary of the crash, the Peace Bridge, Niagara Falls, Buffalo City Hall Dome, the Electric Light Tower, the Rath Building, and Erie County Hall will all be lit in red.
There will be multiple events and gatherings at the Flight 3407 Memorial and burial site at Forest Lawn Cemetery, a Flight 3407 Memorial at the Clarence Library and at the site of the crash at Long Street in Clarence, New York.
A native of New York, Beverly Eckert and her husband Sean Rooney spent several years living in Enfield, Connecticut, and she later lived in Stamford. Rooney was killed in terrorist attack the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. After his death, Beverly Eckert connected with others who lost loved ones.
“My sister and a group of 11 others whose loved ones were killed on 9/11 formed a Family Steering Group to advocate for an investigation into the causes,” Margaret Eckert said. “She and the others attended countless hearings in Washington D.C. and New York. Once the 9/11 Committee Report was issued, they worked relentlessly to make sure that the recommendations were implemented, including the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the reorganization of how intelligence is shared within our government.”
Eight years later, on Feb. 12, 2009, Beverly Eckert was killed in an airplane crash while on her way to New York to celebrate with relatives what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday. She also planned to award an annual scholarship in his name at Rooney’s alma mater, Canisius High School.
Her siblings jumped into action when they found out the airplane crash was due to a preventable safety issue and not mechanical error or bad weather.
“That night and the weeks after were a nightmare, but to learn that the crash was preventable turned grief into activism, as my sisters, Karen Eckert and Susan Bourque, went to D.C. 70 times, at their own expense, with others who lost loved ones, Scott Mauer, Kevin Kulwik, and John and Marilyn Kausner,” Margaret Eckert said. “Whenever more pressure was needed to counteract the lobbyists paid for by the airlines, an all call went out for others in the Family Group to join them in D.C. or to lobby by emails and phone calls for “One Level of Safety.”
The families were horrified to learn that the captain of Flight 3407 failed three proficiency check rides before being hired by Colgan Air, a partner to Continental. After he was hired by Colgan he failed two more proficiency check rides.
In a recording, family members could hear the co-pilot yawning throughout the flight.
Citizen lobbyists pressed Congress to unanimously pass the Airline Safety Act in 2010. Among many changes, the minimum flight experience hours to be hired as a co-pilot was increased to 1,500 from just 190 hours of experience and a commercial pilot license needed previously. Eckert said the Families of Continental Flight 3407 did not let up the pressure during hearings on the legislation.
“The pressure and vigilance remained when the (Federal Aviation Administration) needed re-authorization in 2018. These heroes, my heroes, have made flying safer for every single airline passenger in the U.S. There has not been a single fatal crash of a commercial airline in 10 years in the U.S.,” she said.
Eckert is now retired from teaching at South Hadley High School. She spends most of her time caring for her son with special needs and working with causes that mean a lot to her.
“I pay it forward, just as Beverly did, and just as my siblings continue to do, by working with and supporting Loaves and Fishes, the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, the Human Trafficking subcommittee of the (Sisters of St. Joseph), Habitat for Humanity and other causes,” she said.
Eckert planned to be in New York to be with her family and participate in several activities leading up to he memorial service on Tuesday. Beyond the love and memories she and her family with carry with them, Eckert will also have a physical memory with her.
“I will be wearing a pair of her boots, the same boots I wore when we all marched years ago from the crash site to the airport to complete their journey,” she said.
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On 10th anniversary of Flight 3407 crash, families remember those lost have 1024 words, post on www.masslive.com at February 12, 2019. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.