A Helping Hand

On January 9, 1997, my life, along with others, was changed dramatically. In a small town called Ida in Monroe County Michigan, Comair Flight 3272 crashed in a field. I did not lose a loved one, and I did not know any one on that plane, but I did spend ten long cold days in that field handing out hand warmers and feeding firemen and other rescuers that were there. I also was there when the family members came out to view the crash site. I don’t think the full reality of what happened really hit me until that day. To see the shock and disbelief on those poor family members faces still haunts me and my heart still aches for them.

I think in a way everyone lost a loved one that day; we just didn’t have the privilege to know them when they were alive. I saw and learned so much in those days from hearing the firemen (who were mostly volunteers) yell when they found something and seeing the shocked despair in their faces and tears, to seeing a town pull together for the love and caring of twenty-nine people they never got to meet and meeting family members who shared stories with me about their loved ones.

I was just a volunteer and I know that my hurt is not as deep as the families, but I visit the memorial whenever I am back in town and before I moved I was there at least once a week to put mementos or just to pray for those who perished and their families. I still think about a young boy who was killed that would be my daughters age, three, and when she reaches each precious milestone I think of him and how I couldn’t bear to think of how it would be for her not to be there.

I want all families and friends who have lost loved ones on any aviation disaster to know that the people on the scene who help and work these tragedies do not just “go home” and relax. We cry and we realize just how precious our families are and our prayers and hearts are with each and every one of you.

Shari Frederick, volunteer worker for Comair Flight 3272, Michigan, January 9, 1997

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