Memorial wall built to honor Flight 4184 victims

ROSELAWN, Ind. (WLS) -- A new memorial wall is being dedicated to honor victims of a commuter plane crash in northwestern Indiana 20 years ago.

In a Roselawn farm field, 68 lives were lost when American Eagle Flight 4184 went down. The plane had been in a holding pattern. An ice build-up on its wings caused it to roll and plunge to earth.

There has long been a memorial here, but it is now a permanent monument bearing the names of victims - the father of eight, the forever loved. It is a celebration of life.

"It's also a tribute and testimonial to positive changes that have come forth - now known as the legacy of Flight 4184," said Terri Severin, a relative of the victims.

Flight 4184 provided lessons about the science and risks of icing and the need to revise pilot training, but there was also a human component.

Much of the legacy of 4184 was written by victims' relatives who, in the aftermath of the crash, felt that they were victimized over and over again. Reporters getting more information than relatives. Clumsy communication from the airline. Human remains discovered in the field months after the crash.

Severin, who lost her sister and nephew, and Jennifer Stansberry Miller, who lost her brother, went through that agony. Because of their efforts and the work of others, airlines must now have disaster preparedness plans and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) serves as the lead in helping families navigate the aftermath of tragedy.

"I think the good thing is that the families going through it now don't understand they're going through a process that involved people suffering," said Paul Sledzik, NTSB disaster assistance.

Severin, Miller and many others suffered greatly, but they're also proud of what they were able to do - and proud of the new monument being dedicated on a day not unlike that Halloween 20 years ago.
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