TWA Flight 800 – opening old wounds or finding justice?

I still remember hearing about TWA Flight 800 when it happened.

I was nine in 1996, so I didn’t understand a lot of details, but I remember hearing about the students in Montoursville and the realization that they were just high schoolers – a group I looked up to.

I also remember not understanding the scope of the tragedy, since most local coverage focused on the Montoursville group. Until probably five years ago or so, I didn’t realize that it was a jumbo jet carrying hundreds of people. In my mind, I only ever focused on our local tragedy.

Everyone has stories like that – when they heard about it, who they knew that is connected in some way to the tragedy, which claimed 21 local lives and more than 200 overall.

And now, 17 years later, that’s all coming back with the possibility of reopening the investigation into the crash – all because of a new documentary.

So the question comes – should we reopen this painful chapter or let it rest? The families do indeed deserve to know the truth, but in the end – does it truly matter, since it was an accident either way and nothing anyone finds out can bring the victims back?

It’s not an easy question.

A fellow reporter went to Montoursville and asked about it. Here’s what he found.

Many seem in favor of a fresh look:

At a tavern near Loyalsock Avenue and Broad Street, William O’Connor, also of Montoursville, agreed with Burns and said he believes the government is keeping the truth hidden.

“I don’t know why,” he said. “But the American people — not just those of us here —  need to know the truth, and maybe this documentary will put some pressure on our government. People outside of this town think opening the investigation again would be like pouring salt on a wound. But what you don’t understand is, the pain never stops. You never get over losing someone. My best friend lost a daughter. And he still tells me he wants to know what happened that night at JFK.”

On Facebook, the debate continued yesterday:


Either way, the documentary, “TWA Flight 800,” will premiere July 17, the 17th anniversary of the crash, according to, though I can’t find where.

Let’s also keep in mind the families of the victims and the wounds that still seem fresh in people’s minds.

What do you think? Is reopening the investigation a good idea?


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