December 29th will mark the 35th anniversary of the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 tragedy. Longtime Miami residents will remember that night when a modern airline disaster struck our town for the first time.
On December 29, 1972, flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011, was flying 163 passengers and 13 crew members from New York’s JFK to Miami International Airport. A small series of mistakes, starting with a faulty landing gear confirmation light spiraled out of control and eventually sent the airplane into the Everglades.
In memory of the victims of that disaster and as a tribute to the survivors, family members and rescue personnel, a ceremony will be held Monday, December 3rd, 2:00 pm, at the Metro-Dade Firefighters' Memorial Building, 8000 Northwest 21st Street, Doral, Florida
From the press release for the memorial service:
The guest of honor will be 78-year old, Mr. Robert "Bud" Marquis, who was the first civilian rescuer to arrive at the crash site in his personal airboat and render aid.
The night of December 29, 1972 Bud Marquis and his partner Ray Dickinsin (deceased) witnessed Flight 401 go down in the Everglades, while frog gigging 18 miles west of the Miami-International Airport.
In the dark of night, Bud Marquis navigated his personal airboat through the saw grass and debris of the plane to be the first person to render aid to victims of the crash.
Having no obligation, other than his commitment to his fellow man and without regard for his personal safety, Bud Marquis waded through jet fuel and hydraulic fluid filled water, choked with jagged metal and debris to free passengers still strapped into their seats. Mr. Marquis braved the burning fuselage to free trapped and injured victims. In doing so, he sustained burns to his arms, legs and face.
It was Mr. Marquis who used the headlamp that only a few minutes before he had been using for gigging frogs, to signal and direct the first arriving Coast Guard helicopter to the crash site.
Through the night and into the next day Bud Marquis used his airboat to shuttle rescuers, medical personnel and victims to and from the crash site, to awaiting ambulances.
Rumpole notes, our blog is read by many young lawyers, some who were not even born when this tragedy occurred. It was not that long ago when Miami was a sleepy tourist town and old-timers called home “Miam-ah”. Whether you are passing through on a three year commitment, or planning on making this your new home (as we did) it helps to know some of the history of our fair city.
There used to be a time when about one of every three or four jurors on jury panels were Eastern Airline Employees. Now EAL is just a fond memory.
Coming tomorrow: should the bar punish lawyers for blogging, or is the First Amendment alive and well in cyberspace?
See You In Court.
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