Remembering Montoursville HS students, chaperones who were killed on Flight 800, as we approach the 25th anniversary

Local News

MONTOURSVILLE, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Looking back to the year 1996, Saturday will mark 25 years since Flight 800 went down, killing everyone on board. 

Eerie images of TWA Flight 800 in the Atlantic Ocean on July 17, 1996. The plane had exploded 12 minutes after takeoff at JFK International Airport.

230 people on board including crew members were killed. Among them were several students and chaperones from Lycoming County.

“We had the TV on, and they announced about this plane going down and I told my wife ‘oh boy I hope that wasn’t our kids’,” said Don King, former social studies teacher at Montoursville Area High School.

16 students and five adult chaperones were on Flight 800 heading to Paris, France for a French club field trip.

“The kids were all waiting along Arch Street to be picked up by the bus to take them to New York. Well, nothing less, that was the last I saw those kids,” King said.

King says parents rushed to the scene late that night.

“We went into the school and the school was just, packed with teachers and students and they were there all hours of the night.”

Five days after the crash on July 21, a resident of Montoursville captured this “angel” in the sky. A sign from the victims that was felt everywhere.

“It had a big impact. You can see down at the monument; you can see the impact it had,” said King.

The Flight 800 monument was built outside the high school. The 21 trees represent the victims with their names etched in marble.

“It’s on everybody’s mind this time of year. It’s something you never forget,” said Maynard Bogart, president of the General John Burrows Historical Society.

To help remember the French club, there is a room on display inside the General John Burrows Historical Society. The Nibert family helped create the memorial at the museum in memory of their loved one, Cheryl and all victims.

“It is a big part of Montoursville history. So, their family was very involved in putting that room up there and all the stuff,” said Bogart.

Newspaper articles capture the days following the accident, which has gone down as the third-deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history. 

Eyewitness News will share more stories to remember the victims of Flight 800 in our area throughout the rest of the week up until the 25th anniversary on Saturday.

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