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Police Officer Starts Somber Reading of List of Crash Victims

October 10, 1990

DUMFRIES, Scotland (AP) _ A police sergeant on Wednesday began the somber roll call of the 270 people who died in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland.

In a silent courtroom virtually empty of spectators, Sgt. David Johnston began listing in alphabetical order the fate of each victim and where their bodies were found as documented by investigators and pathologists.

All 259 people aboard the Boeing 747 died when it exploded over the nearby town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988. Eleven people in that Scottish town were also killed in the crash.

Johnston, of Strathclyde police, told the first public hearing into the crash that he arrived in Lockerbie on Christmas Day to work with a unit collating information on the dead.

The first name on his roll call was John Michael Gerard Ahearn, 26, a government bonds broker who lived in Rockville Center, N.Y.

In a process lasting six minutes, Johnston told the court how the young American had been sitting in seat 30C in the economy class area. His body was found the day after the crash on the Lockerbie golf course. A postmortem exam put the cause of death as multiple injuries.

Johnston said Ahearn was identified by dental records.

The sergeant then continued with the list. The roll call is expected to take several days.

Earlier, Johnston told how 17 victims, 10 passengers and seven Lockerbie residents, were officially registered as ″missing presumed dead.″

Most of the missing passengers were sitting in the fuel-laden wing section that crashed in a fireball in the Sherwood Crescent section of town, damaging or destroying about 20 homes. The missing local residents were from those homes.

Several dozen bags of unidentified human remains and two bodies that could not be identified were cremated, police said.

Johnston said for each casualty, a ″victim pack″ was compiled, listing all documentary material relating to their death.

The officer also produced maps showing the location of each body and described how the victims were identified by several means, mainly dental records and fingerprints.

Some were identified by distinctive features like tattoos. Two victims were identified by next of kin who were members of the medical profession.

The officer described how police obtained proof that those missing had joined the doomed flight, in some cases recovering personal documents like driving licenses from the debris.

The inquiry is focusing on the causes of death and airport security, but not criminal responsibility. Scottish police say they are investigating several radical Palestinian groups and Fraser has said he believes the bombers will be caught.

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