Montoursville remembers TWA Flight 800 members

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MONTOURSVILLE, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The anniversary of one of the worst plane crashes in U.S. history, one that cut to the core of a Lycoming County community.

25 years ago Saturday night, TWA Flight 800 crashed off the coast of Long Island, New York shortly after takeoff from JFK Airport. The jetliner was bound for France carrying 230 people, including 16 Montoursville Area High School students and their five adult chaperones.

Those local lives are celebrated every five years with a 5-kilometer race in remembrance. The community put their best foot forward to support the families and loved ones of those who never made it home.

“There is a whole different aura in a sense about being here today as opposed to other races. It’s fun, it’s connection, it’s community, it’s remembrance,” Allan Robertson of Williamsport said.

The Flight 800 Race in Remembrance takes runners and walkers around Indian Park in Montoursville. With every step these runner take their minds are on the people who lost their lived 25 years ago and the pain it caused the community.

“You know people still want to come out, and support one another, and show that love and compassion for the ones that we have lost,” winner Holly Robertson of Williamsport said.

“That was there for me the whole time for me, so, it was in my heart, very heavy but you push through,” Robertson said.

“Well when I was in the race at the end, I looked back to see if there was anybody, and I did not see anybody, and I was thinking, this is my chance to win it for them,” winner Weston Fry of Montoursville said.

Race organizers say runners and walkers have come from all over to participate in the race in remembrance, including Montoursville Area High School graduates who were friends with the students on Flight 800.

“It was one of those pivotal moments. You will never forget where you were when heard the news about Flight 800,” Montoursville Area High School graduate Bethany Coleman of Camp Hill said.

Coleman was a close friend of Larissa Uzupis, one of the French Club students aboard Flight 800. She says memories came flooding back as she struggled to finish the hot and humid race.

“But then one of those faces would flash into your mind, and you would just stop and think about those people we lost. And all of a sudden, you know what I picked up the pace, I kept going, and I was able to finish,” Coleman said.

Larissa’s father, Steve Uzupis was there with his family, as the community of Montoursville showed their support from start to finish.

“I just appreciate the fact that so many people have come out today. The community has always supported us. And I would like them to know that support is very very important. It means something to me and to the other family members as well,” Steve Uzupis said.

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