Video: Miami-Dade first responders reflect 25 years after plane crash that killed 110 people

Firefighters and police officers recalled searching through the Everglades for anything that could be given back to the victims' families


By Laura French

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. — Miami-Dade firefighters and police officers who responded to the fiery plane crash that killed 110 people on May 11, 1996, recounted their recovery efforts on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy. 

Retired Miami-Dade Firefighter Willi Alvarez said in an interview with NBC Miami he and other first responders continue to carry trauma from the day ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Everglades 10 minutes after takeoff from Miami, killing all on board.

In this 2014 photo, rocks, coins and other items are left at the ValuJet Memorial in Everglades National Park, honoring the 110 people killed in the ValuJet Flight 592 crash on May 11, 1996. Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.
In this 2014 photo, rocks, coins and other items are left at the ValuJet Memorial in Everglades National Park, honoring the 110 people killed in the ValuJet Flight 592 crash on May 11, 1996. Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the tragedy. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter, File)

Alvarez tearfully recalled how first responders stood at attention to pay respects to the families of the victims as they drove by. 

"What I hope to do on this May 11, on the 25th anniversary, was once again have our people come out here and pay our respects for the families," Alvarez told NBC Miami. 

Two Miami-Dade Police Department divers who responded, Michael Gast and Danny Llano, described their efforts to recover anything that could be given back to victims' family members. Llano said it was difficult to see some of the personal items left behind, including a teddy bear he recovered.

A remembrance ceremony to commemorate the 25th anniversary will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the ValuJet Memorial site in Everglades National Park. 

 

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