2002-07-20 / Columnists

Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle

Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle

They Know What They Saw

The Wave and Victor Trombettas, (who runs a website www.usread.com) devoted to the investigation of the crash of Flight 587, deserve heaps of credit for running as good a meeting as you’ll ever attend in Rockaway. They’d secured the banquet room at the Beach Club---free of charge---for the purpose of bringing together all witnesses of the crash, so that they could share their stories. On one hand, nothing could be accomplished---the NTSB and FBI and other investigators had no interest in the meeting or eyewitness accounts. On the other hand, the very credible witnesses lent each other some measure of reassurance---they might be ignored and disregarded by officials but they know what they saw. And it helps that others saw the same or similar things.

I think it was the first meeting I’d been to at which somebody didn’t complain about parking regulations or dog crap on the beach (Joe Addabbo and Audrey Pheffer are to be commended for attending and offering brief statements).

The witnesses offered compelling, detailed stories. The perspectives were quite varied. One woman was on the boardwalk at Beach 60th or so---other witnesses were in Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue. (This might explain some left side-right side discrepancy that the NTSB pointed to when offering their "stats" on eyewitness accounts). There was a witness at the foot of the Marine Park-Gil Hodges Bridge and another at Beach 114th street. There was a witness at Beach 151st street and another at Beach 125th.

By and large, the witnesses got up, told their stories, and went back to their seats. There was a minimal amount of theorizing about sabotage or terrorism. The overriding position taken was ---we don’t know what or who caused this but we know the plane was on fire in the air.

The NTSB is a true bogeyman in this. It’s easy to understand that the government, fearing economic devastation, would be inclined to steer clear of sabotage or terrorism as an explanation why a tailfin of a plane suddenly broke free. But at the very least they---the government and its 14 investigative teams assigned to the case---could have spent a little more time, showed a little more interest, in the eyewitness accounts.

A recent article appearing in the NY Times besmirching eyewitness accounts was clearly spoon-fed from the NTSB. Okay, you want to stamp eyewitnesses as unreliable? Well, at the very least get their statements immediately. The NTSB waited months before asking eyewitnesses for their accounts. Of course, it’s easier to make the "unreliability" argument if you gather statements months after the fact. And if eyewitness accounts are that unreliable---maybe we shouldn’t believe anything we read in the New York Times---because, after all, so much of their reporting relies on eyewitness accounts.

So-called experts cited in the Times article said the best eyewitness is the "twisted metal" of the plane---suggesting the evidence can be found best in the wreckage. And what if that "best witness" is tampered with? The NTSB doesn’t believe witnesses---should we believe the NTSB. They wouldn’t wipe away explosive residue would they? No, of course not.

Well, all I can is, the eyewitnesses at the Beach Club had a lot more credibility than Marion Blakey—Chair of the NTSB---who said the very day the plane crashed, that all evidence suggests an accident. She and her agency are the ones the NY Times should be challenging.

You wonder if phone calls hadn’t been made from planes on 9-11 if the NTSB would have pinned those atrocities on a faulty air traffic control computer system.

Boyle-ing Over: Some people under the mistaken impression that people read this column insist that I give some ink to a couple of worthy causes. Here goes:

This Saturday, July 20th, at the Point Breeze Clubhouse in Breezy there will be a benefit for the family of Mike Schriener. "Mookie" as he was affectionately known, died last year after a brief illness and left three young boys. The benefit proceeds will go to the boys education fund. The event kicks off at 4:00 pm. There will be music, 50/50's, auctions and plenty of beer.

The following Saturday, July 27, there will be a Special Olympics fund-raiser at 5pm at Flip Mullen's house 147 Beach 134 St. The party will include a catered dinner, drinks and music! A donation of $30 per person is requested for those attending!

The above events are a great excuse to have fun while doing some good. Tape the dates to the refrigerator so you don’t forget.

*** And though it’s not a fund-raiser recognition is due the folks in Broad Channel. Party Marty Feeney tells me the summer classic basketball in The Channel is in its ninth year. More than 200 kids enjoy the league, which costs next to nothing to join. The Channel ---despite a small population---has offered a multitude of sports to the kids for years. They’ve really gone above and beyond. Quite frankly, I think The Wave should give these guys some ink! (Now, Marty send me a nice email instead of that nasty invective I get first thing Friday mornings).

***The Graybeards basketball championship will be held Thursday, July 25 at St. Francis at 7:30 pm. Though admission is a little steep---it’s free---it’s well worth stopping by.

***I see President Bush transferred powers to Vice President Cheney while undergoing a colonoscopy. As a veteran of that procedure, I can tell you he should’ve transferred powers the night before.

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