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A message from Joan Lunden | ACCESS

A message from Joan Lunden

I remember the day my father died as if it were yesterday. I was 14. My father had wanted our family to join him on a business trip in our new plane, but my mother didn’t want my brother and me to miss school. Then at the last minute she changed her mind. We arrived just as the plane was taking off. I stood by the runway waving goodbye. That was the last time I would ever see my dad. His plane crashed somewhere in Malibu Canyon, CA on the way back.

Joan with her father

For the longest time I held onto the belief that somehow he was still out there and that he was okay. Although it’s been many years, my father’s death still has a profound effect on my life. His words of constant encouragement ring in my ears to this very day. They are my inspiration to rise above the roadblocks of life; to succeed as a worker and a friend, and to be the best I can be.

On July 17, 1996, while I was reporting on the TWA Flight 800 disaster as host of GoodMorning America, I was called into the control room. They had someone on the phone frantically trying to see if his twin brother Jed was in the crash. Jed was scheduled to be on the later flight to Paris. The producers of the show contacted TWA and confirmed our worst fear: that Jed, my childhood best friend and first boyfriend, was on that plane.

Jed Johnson

Never before in my twenty years on Good Morning America had I gone on the air unable to speak, but that morning my co-host, Charlie Gibson, explained to the viewers that I needed a few moments to regain my composure.

A year before my fathers crash, two of his colleagues, who were private plane pilots, had crashed and died. It was my father who went to their homes to tell their wives. In the days following my dad’s crash, those two women practically lived at our house, helping us through the first few days.And that is the real magic of ACCESS, a program where role models who have experienced the same type of loss can uniquely help others navigate their painful journey.

Heidi has shown the world that one person can make a difference

When you meet Heidi you cannot help but be struck by a sense that she is carrying on in the face of a tragic event. I was impressed by how she was able to find new strengths after losing her fiancé on Flight 800 and turn her sorrow into a source of joy.

A terrible tragic moment, through difficult at the time, can become a source of strength and courage. Like Heidi, I have allowed myself to be inspired by the lives of those I lost.

Some of us have the opportunity to finish our work here, and tragically some of us are taken way too soon.

To my dad: I remember every word you
ever said, Dad. To my dear friend Jed: Your
devotion and support gave me the courage
to pursue my dream in New York. Without
you both, I would not be who I am today.

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Families We Have Helped:

Below are some of the air disasters that we have responded to:
Private Plane - 9/26/12
Rockingham County, VA
Private Plane - 2/27/11
Abu Dhabi
Private Plane - 12/22/10
Barrington, NY
Private Plane - 7/17/10
South Portland, ME
Air India Express 812 - 5/22/10
Mangalore, India
Afriqiyah Airways 8U771- 5/12/10
Tripoli, Libya
Ethiopian Airlines 409 - 1/25/10
Off of Na'ameh, Lebanon
Air France Flight 447 - 6/1/09
Atlantic Ocean
Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 - 2/25/09
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Continental Flight 3407 - 2/12/09
Clarence Center, NY
US Airways Flight 1549 - 1/15/09
Hudson River, NY
Aeroflot Flight 821 - 9/14/08
Perm, Russia
Spanair JK 5022 - 8/20/08
Madrid, Spain
TAM Airways JJ 3054 - 7/17/07
São Paulo, Brazil
Comair Flight 5191 - 8/27/06
Lexington, KY
Airbus A320-211 - 5/3/06
Off Sochi, Russia
Bellview Airlines - 10/23/05
Nigeria
West Caribbean Airways 708 - 8/16/05
Machiques, Venezuela
Air France Flight 358 - 8/2/05
Ontario, Canada
Kam Air Flight 904 - 2/3/05
Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan
Corporate Airlines 5966 - 10/19/04
Pettis Township, MO
Kish Airlines Flight 1770 - 2/10/04
United Arab Emirates
Georgian Express Flight 126 - 1/17/04
Ontario, Canada
Flash Airlines 604 - 1/3/04

Red Sea

Turkish Airlines 634 - 1/8/03

Diyarbakır Airport, Turkey

US Airways Express/Air Midwest Flight 5481 - 1/8/03

Charlotte, NC

American Flight 587 - 11/12/01

Queens, NY

The events of September 11, 2001

Private Plane - 12/3/00
Milltown, WI
Singapore Airlines 006 - 10/31/00

Chiang Kai-shek Internat'l Airport

Gulf Air Bus A320 - 8/23/00

Persian Gulf, Bahrain

Air France Concorde 4590 - 7/25/00

Gonesse, France

Alaska Airlines 261 - 1/31/00

Pacific Ocean

Egypt Air 990 - 10/31/99

Atlantic Ocean

American Airlines 1420 - 6/1/99

Little Rock, AR

Swissair 111 - 9/2/98

Atlantic Ocean

Private Plane - 8/4/98
Phillips, WI
TWA 800 - 7/17/96

US Air 427 9/8/94

Allegheny County, PA

Long Island, NY

Pan Am 103 - 12/21/88

Lockerbie, Scotland

TWA/United Airlines - Mid-Air Collision- 12/16/1960
Brooklyn & Staten Island, NY
and hundreds of other private, commercial and military air disasters

See Full List