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ValuJet Crash Memorial Dedicated

May 12, 1999

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla. (AP) _ With images of lost loved ones in hand, pinned to lapels or printed on T-shirts, about 150 people attended a dedication ceremony for a memorial to those killed when a ValuJet plane crashed into a swamp three years ago.

``It is something very important for people to remember this tragedy,″ said Maria Latronico, of Boynton Beach, whose cousin Giuseppe Basunno died in the accident. She accompanied an aunt and uncle who traveled from Italy for Tuesday’s ceremony.

The monument with 110 concrete columns topped by pyramids rests on a grassy knoll a few yards from a levee. The columns, set apart in rows, represent each victim of the crash.

The columns are arranged on a triangular platform that points toward the crash site. A center aisle divides the rows, widening as the structure rises.

``For me the design is an allegory, the rise of the victim’s souls and the fall of the fateful plane,″ said Lee Sawyer, a teacher whose parents died in the crash.

Chemical oxygen generators ignited in the cargo hold of ValuJet Flight 592, sending flames tearing through the floor of the passenger cabin. The DC-9 nose-dived into the swamp at 460 mph moments after it took off from Miami for Atlanta.

``You never get over it,″ said Richard Kessler, whose wife, Kathleen, was killed. ``The old myth is time heals and you get on with your life. But as we all know, you carry this pain the rest of your life.″

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