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Investigators Still Hopeful For Large Pieces Of ValuJet Plane

May 22, 1996

MIAMI (AP) _ Investigators said Wednesday they’re still convinced large pieces of ValuJet Flight 592 lie on the swamp floor of the crater created by the jet’s impact.

``We do have some indication from radar that there may be some larger pieces down there,″ National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Pat Cariseo said.

A backhoe and about a dozen pontoons arrived Wednesday to help dredge the remains of the DC-9 and its 110 passengers from the Everglades a day after a dive into the pit revealed no pieces larger than a 3-by-6-foot tabletop.

Cariseo acknowledged pieces of the plane could be damaged while being salvaged by heavy equipment, but said workers would be careful.

Still missing is the cockpit voice recorder, which could provide important clues into the May 11 crash. And the local medical examiner’s office said Wednesday no intact body has been found and none of the 110 aboard positively identified.

Late Wednesday, investigators were awaiting an emergency permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow them to begin dredging in the environmentally sensitive wetlands. Agency spokeswoman Jacquelyn Griffen said the permit was expected by Thursday.

Meanwhile, a woman who was on the ValuJet plane’s next-to-last flight said Wednesday the aircraft had a series of problems, including engines stopping on the ground before takeoff and a loss of electricity in the passenger cabin just before they landed in Miami.

Officials have said there were problems with a circuit breaker before the plane took off from Atlanta, but Pamela S. Hettinger of Louisville, Ky., was the first passenger to step forward with detail.

She told The Associated Press that as the plane was descending over the Everglades to Miami International Airport all the electricity went out and a flight attendant had to use a bull horn to tell people to fasten their seat belts.

Cariseo wouldn’t discuss on Hettinger’s comments, but said NTSB officials are talking to passengers of the Miami-bound flight.

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