WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIVB) - Four years ago, the lives of dozens of families were forever changed when Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence Center.
Loved ones are gathering Tuesday night to remember and honor the lives lost in the crash. And while some family members are marking the anniversary in WNY, others traveled to Washington to continue their fight to make airline travel safer for everyone.
Around 50 members comprised of the families of those who lost their lives in the crash are in our nation's capital to speak to lawmakers and urge them to put pressure on the FAA to reform the aviation industry.
Rep. Chris Collins, who was Erie County Executive at the time of the crash, broke down in tears Tuesday as he remembered Flight 3407.
"I remember that day like it was yesterday," Collins said. "That night is etched in my memory forever. The flames... the tragedy that occurred... the loss of life should not have happened."
Collins and New York's senior Senator Charles Schumer are calling on the FAA to meet deadlines enacting new rules and regulations that would increase the amount of airtime a pilot has before being hired while enhancing overhaul training. The NTSB cited pilot error as the cause of the crash in Clarence Center.
Schumer announced Tuesday the FAA is on track to meet deadlines, though they have failed to do so now for nearly two years. The families of Flight 3407 have been lobbying for change in Washington since the crash four years ago. This marks the first anniversary they have been in Washington, and they hope it will be the last time.
Jennifer West, who lost her husband in the crash, went from office to office, speaking to representatives from around the country.
"We really need the support," West said. "It's been four years and we don't want the FAA to drag their feet any more."
Flight 3407 was the last deadly crash in the United States.
"It makes me feel better that no one has to go through what we went through," West said. "But just because there hasn't been a crash doesn't mean there won't be one tomorrow."
That is the exact point WNY lawmakers are citing as they put pressure on the FAA to make the skies safer for all Americans. Schumer notes they have a lot further to go.
As they went around to offices on Tuesday, many from the Flight 3407 families were met with blank looks by staffers unfamiliar with the crash. However, they vowed to not get discouraged and keep pushing until changes are made.
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