Memorial Ceremony For AA 587 Today
On Monday, November 12, 2001 an American Airlines Airbus A300 bound for the Dominican Republic crashed in the quiet residential neighborhood of Belle Harbor Queens shortly after take-off from John F. Kennedy International Airport. The plane, carrying over 260 passengers and crewmembers, crashed to the ground at 131st Street and Newport Avenue killing all aboard. The resulting flames and thick black smoke from the crash could be seen from miles away.
Box Number 1398, located at 127 Street and Newport Avenue was transmitted at 0917 hours EST. Within minutes first arriving Fire Department units transmitted a 10-60 “Major Emergency Response” followed shortly thereafter by a fifth-alarm assignment. In addition to the 60 units and 220 firefighters assigned to the fifth-alarm, hundreds of off-duty firefighters who live in the area responded to help in the rescue and recovery efforts.
Moments after the initial call was received, box 1441 was transmitted for a gas station located at 183 Beach 133 Street, a few blocks from the incident where one of the engines from the ill-fated flight had landed. Amazingly, no one was hurt on the ground as a result of the falling debris and this incident was brought under control at 1228 hours.
After the majority of flames were extinguished, firefighters, emergency medical workers and police officers, quickly sifted through the debris searching for victims. Porta-power, battery-powered Sawsalls and chain saws, along with picks, axes, pry bars, and shovels were used to search for and retrieve victims from the crash. The debris field, miraculously confined to a relatively small area for such a large aircraft, was picked through by hand in most cases to recover bodies. So far, 285 bodies have been removed and transported by ambulances to a temporary morgue set up at Floyd Bennett Field in nearby Brooklyn for identification. The plane destroyed four private dwellings and heavily damaged four others while 12 additional homes suffered minor damage. Six civilians who were thought to be in homes or on the ground and in the vicinity at the time of the crash are still unaccounted for. In addition to the victims, 25 emergency personnel and 7 civilians were transported to area hospitals. Another 28 firefighters and 2 civilians were treated on scene.