Group offers support for airplane crash victims’ families

WASHINGTON — There has been a lot of focus on the mystery surrounding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 for nearly the past two weeks, but for the families of the victims, it can be pure agony.

Heidi Snow lost her fiance on TWA Flight 800, which crashed off New York in 1996. She says it took five weeks to find his body, and the waiting was unbearable.

“Every day we gathered and we’d wait for information,” Snow says. “In my mind, he had survived, because at that point the alternative was unthinkable.”

She contacted a woman who had lost her own fiance on Pan Am Flight 103 eight years earlier.

“It was so helpful to have somebody who understood what it was like to go through that process,” Snow says.

It’s what inspired her to start ACCESS (AirCraft Casualty Emotional Support Services), which pairs people in such agonizing situations with those who have been through the process before.

“A woman who calls us who’s lost her husband who has small children — we’ll pair her with another woman who has lost her husband and has small children,” she says.

The group has helped hundreds of people, Snow says, and is working with a relative of a Malaysian Airlines passenger. And Snow says calls are pouring in from past victims for whom the Malaysian mystery is opening old wounds.

“For all of us, this brings us back to Day One.”

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