Families Mourn Crash Victims
Feb. 03, 2000
PORT HUENEME, Calif. (AP) _ Miguel Morales clutched a well-worn Bible and prayed. School children tossed flowers off the pier.
Disaster visited this Southern California beach town this week, tying it to the friends and relatives of the 88 people killed when Alaska Airlines Flight 261 plunged several miles offshore into the Pacific on Monday.
Beaches became a mecca for mourners unsure how to express grief for the victims. Many walked quietly to the sand, looking to the sea and kneeling for a moment of prayer.
``It's very sad,'' Morales said as he gathered with fellow Victory Outreach parishioners Wednesday alongside Hueneme Pier, where a floral tribute featured the sign ``Remembering those lost ... pray for their families.''
``God's with them,'' Morales said. ``We're going to lift them up with our prayers.''
Teachers Cynthia Mehle and Terri Foulks and 45 of their seventh- and eighth-grade students from Hueneme Christian School, all in uniform, walked two blocks from their school to the ocean and dropped flowers from the pier.
The crash brought back old feelings for one 13-year-old who lost his mother when he was 4. ``He said he knew how it felt to have a parent yanked away from you suddenly. He knew the grief the families were feeling,'' Mehle said.
Each student was given two names from the victim list. As they dropped their flowers into the sea, they prayed for those two people and their families.
Ruth Hirsh, 75, sat on a beach bench with friends.
``I think that pilot was a hero. He could have taken us out. I think the pilot deliberately put it in the ocean so he wouldn't hit us,'' Hirsh said.