Crash impacted families, community and airline industry


A house stood on Long Road, in Clarence Center, until five years ago Wednesday. Now, that home is the site of a memorial to victims of the crash of Flight 3407. Families came together who didn’t know each other until that fateful night.

Even as they grieved, they focused on making changes to the aviation industry, so that a tragedy like this would never happen again. Flaws in the systems were exposed. Even though there were other crashes were lives were lost, this group did something the ones before them could not. They fought for change, and made it happen.

The trauma and sense of loss tested us in many ways as a community. We tend to grow and learn from our losses. And somehow, it seems to make us stronger.

It was Mother Teresa who said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Families, initially alone in their tragic losses, joined together to create ripples that would cascade through Washington and change the rules for safety and transparency in the airline industry.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “They were tenacious and cohesive, articulate and while they’ve lost their loved ones, they’ve left an extraordinary legacy.”

To qualify as pilots, they must now have a minimum of a thousand co-pilot hours. They must get at least 10 hours of rest between shifts, and must prove through training, that they can prevent a stall. The kind of training that may have prevented the crash of Flight 3407.

Each family remembers its loved one in its own way. For those who gather at the memorial in Clarence Center it can be especially painful on the anniversary date of the crash.

The Saltzgibers lost their daughter Kristen.

Gale Saltzgiber said, “I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, but to lose a child is very, very tough, and I don’t think you ever get over it. I haven’t, I know.”

The Saltzgibers were part of the march from Clarence to the airport on the first anniversary of the crash. Though they are from out of town, they have bonded with the western New York community.

Cindy Saltzgiber said, “Those are the good thoughts that we have of Buffalo, is the people and the response that they’ve made and how they feel like we feel about the crash. That they’re concerned.”

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