Grim Identification Task Begins With AM-Galaxy Crash
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ The burned remains of 67 bodies were laid in rows, searched and fingerprinted when possible Tuesday as officials began trying to identify the victims of the Galaxy Airlines charter plane crash.
Relatives awaited the word Washoe County Coroner Vern McCarty said might not come for three to four days, because many were ″burned beyond visual recognition.″
A refrigerated produce truck delivered bodies to a temporary morgue at the county fairgrounds.
In the air-conditioned fairgrounds building, the bodies were searched for personal effects and identification, said Joe Faires of the FBI disaster team. FBI experts will then try to obtain fingerprints from the victims for further use, he said.
A group of dentists has been assembled to help with identification, and relatives of people listed on the manifest being encouraged to send any dental or fingerprint records to aid the effort.
Fingerprints in FBI files for those who might have worked ″in banking, government jobs or the military″ also are being flown in, Faires said.
No definite plans have been made to fly the victims back to Minneapolis, where the flight originated, although Galaxy Airlines has offered to fly the bodies back, McCarty said.
The grisly work following this gaming city’s worst disaster is taking its toll on some, according to Michael Hoover, director of the medical social services for Washoe Medical Center.
Emergency crews are ″under a level of stress that can’t ever be described,″ he said, calling it ″post-traumatic stress syndrome.
″It’s an indescribable process of trying to pull some 60-odd bodies out,″ he said. Some sheriff’s officers and other have called the hospital, he said, ″complaining they may never be able to sleep again.″
He said such stress has the ″tendency to force out the imperfections we may have,″ adding symptoms are sudden changes in personality, incidents of violence, irritability and loss of sleep.
The hospital has planned a counseling workshop for Wednesday, and another hospital has set up a hotline.