© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Flight 3407 families meet President Obama

By Eileen Buckley


Cheektowaga, NY – Shortly after arriving at the Buffalo Airport President Obama held a private meeting with ten family members of Flight 3407.

Mr. Obama personally reached out to each family member. They met at the Buffalo Airport fire station. 50 people were killed when the plane crashed in Clarence, NY.

Click the audio player above to hear Eileen Buckley's full story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.

Flight 3407 families have been lobbying aggressively for stronger aviation safety. The investigation revealed a lack of pilot training.

"He promised to try to give Congress a little nudge," said Kevin Kuwick. Kuwick lost his girlfriend, Lorin Mauer in the 2009 February's crash.

Two aviation bills passed in the House and Senate, but now they must be merged.

Some family members said the meeting with the President was bitter sweet. Robin Tolsma lost her husband in the crash. She wears his ashes on a necklace and felt it was appropriate to meet with the President at the Airport in honor of her loved one.

"In an odd way, he is returning to the airport today, but in small pieces in a locket around my neck. And it was the president coming here, knowng that it is a stepping stone. And I have said this all along that we are in a marathon we can see that finish line, but we are not there yet," said Tolsma.

Kathy Johnston lost her husband in the crash and attended yesterday's private meeting with Mr. Obama. Johnston's nephew had rubber wristbands made in memory of the crash and now the President has one.

President Obama put the bracelet on his wrist and wore it through out his Buffalo visit.

Families say the President described his shock at the National Transportation Safety Board's findings. Flight 3407 families say Mr. Obama clearly understood the aviation safety bill and what was holding up final passage.

The meeting lasted only ten minutes, but the families say the President promised he would give Congress a nudge to merge two aviation bills in the House and Senate.