MONTOURSVILLE, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A quarter-century after one of the biggest flight disasters in U.S. history, a Lycoming County community is still keeping the memories alive of those they lost.
Saturday marks 25 years since TWA Flight 800 exploded, killing all 230 passengers on board. All these years later, residents still continue to honor the victims, several who were from Montoursville.
On the night of July 17th 1996, TWA Flight 800 left JFK International Airport headed to France. It never got there. The jetliner burst into flames shortly after takeoff and crashed off the coast of Long Island. 21 passengers of the 230 people on board were students and chaperones from Montoursville Area High School.
They were headed to Europe for a school trip. Every five years on the anniversary, the town hosts a race in remembrance to pay tribute to the lives lost.
“This was the right thing to do, to make sure this part of Montoursville history didn’t go away,” event coordinator Stephanie Bedison said.
As a teacher and coach at the high school, Bedison knew almost everyone who perished.
“One girl in particular, Jody Loudenslager. I would spend many many miles in the summertime running with her because she was my cross-county coach. She was my babysitter too. So it became very personal for me,” Bedison said.
One race/walk participant was best friends with Jody and even wears a ring with her initial.
“She just had such a love of life and so any way that we can kind of keep that vibe and happiness and joy alive and moving forward to touch other people’s lives it just makes her feel like she’s still here,” Sarah Bacon of Montoursville said.
Even those who didn’t know the victims personally still came out to pay respect.
“Just to remember that, you know, they were part of community and what their lives would be like now, you know, if they had not died in the crash,” Paula Yenner of Cogan Station said.
Even though this day brings back painful memories, they are comforted how the community comes together.
“I’m just so grateful for our family and that we can show support to the families of the people we wish were here instead,” Sue Carver of Montoursville said.
Everyone said they’ll never forget that terrible day but are happy to have events like this, that continue to celebrate their lives.