2003-06-13 / Community

Bill Brings Info To Families of Crash Victims

Bill Brings Info To Families of Crash Victims

The House of Representatives has recently passed legislation authored Representative Anthony Weiner that will greatly enhance the flow of crucial information to plane crash victims. Weiner represents Belle Harbor, Queens, the site of the crash of Flight 587 in 2001.

On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed down in Belle Harbor, Queens.  All 260 passengers on board perished, as did five Belle Harbor residents on the ground, and several homes were damaged or destroyed. 

In the aftermath, victims were often frustrated in their desperate search for answers. Families who lost loved ones were stunned to learn that they would not be able to watch the NTSB’s Flight 587 crash hearings without traveling to Washington, D.C., a trip many could not afford.  And those whose homes were lost struggled to understand their legal rights, and to determine who would help them cover the steep financial costs of rebuilding.

Rep. Weiner’s legislation, the language of which was included in the FAA re-authorization, will expand access to investigative hearings, and ensure that on-the-ground victims who sustain property damage will receive proper guidance about their rights. Under the bill:

After any plane crash, the airline will be required to provide simultaneous broadcast of any NTSB hearing in both the departure and arrival city, if and when the hearing is set to be held more than 80 miles from the accident site. That way, any interested party, especially the families of victims, will be able to watch the proceedings without incurring substantial financial hardship.

In any case where property is damaged on the ground, the responsible airline will be required to provide notice to property owners regarding who they should contact to receive compensation, and guidance on how to document their claims.  Such measures should reduce the confusion that necessarily follows the traumatic events.

"Belle Harbor is a community that looks up to the heavens every day to see planes flying overhead," said Rep. Weiner. "After the events of November 12, 2001, I do not think anyone in our community will ever look at those planes the same way again.  But for those of us who are charged with moving forward, we must learn the solemn lessons of Flight 587, and make it easier for victims to get the information they need."

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