40 Years Later, Memorial Sought For Crash Victims

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Survivors and families of the victims of Eastern Flight 401 are trying to collect $15,000 for an engraved granite block to serve as a memorial to the 101 people killed when the jet crashed in the Everglades northwest of Miami on Dec. 29, 1972. The flight took off from JFK with 176 aboard and while approaching Miami the pilots became fixated on an indicator light that had burned out. While working the problem, the crew failed to notice that the jet's autopilot had been accidentally switched off and the jet slowly descended into the Everglades, breaking apart on impact. Proponents of the memorial hope to see it placed on the grounds at the Glenn H. Curtiss Mansion and Gardens near Miami International Airport. They also plan to meet, Saturday, at another Everglades crash memorial.

Some 40 survivors and surviving family members are expected to gather Saturday in southwest Miami-Dade County at the ValuJet Flight 592 memorial. That aircraft came down 24 years after and roughly two miles from the Eastern jet. There were no survivors of the ValuJet crash. Some Eastern Flight 401 survivors spent hours in the water of the swamp before they were found. Surviving flight attendant Beverly Raposa is credited with singing Christmas carols to comfort surviving passengers until rescuers found the crash site. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, after a ceremony at the ValuJet memorial, the group plans to gather at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant near Miami International Airport for a candlelight remembrance.