Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

25 Years Ago


Twenty-five years ago, I was focused on my young family and how it was growing. We were focused on making our mortgage payments and still being able to buy groceries. We were young and just really starting our lives. We had our first house in Security, right off of Fontaine by Watson Jr. High School, just south of Widefield Community Park.

The park today is a lovely spot to go play frisbee golf or walk the memorial grounds to the gazebo. I usually say a prayer as I stroll the grounds. There are children laughing and playing on swings and monkey bars, teenagers shooting hoops and using foul language, and there is a feeling when you are amongst the visitors of the park, that they don't really know why that gazebo is there and if they do it must be ancient history. Like it was Wilbur Wright who may have flown a prototype into the park. I am not so sure they know what lies under the place they are standing. Under the place they dump their fast food trash. Under the place they sneak to so they can smooch or smoke in the gazebo.

It was a day that was so impactful in our valley, people still tell stories of what they saw, what they heard, what they felt. An unusual, rather nice day in early March, we felt not so safe in our community, we also felt such empathy.

United Flight 585 nosedived into the ground of the corner of the Widefield Community Park. There was not a skid mark on the ground where it plummeted to, nor damage to surrounding homes or deaths of members of our community. It went straight down into the ground. It took with it 25 souls, leaving not a single survivor. I have spoken to many firefighters who were on scene and I worked for a dentist who told me he was there to identify folks according to dental records. All of them had such a difficult time telling me what they saw and experienced. My imagination went crazy with images, like most of us here at the time.

After the wreckage was cleared and the hype was over, a beautiful memorial was erected and Ash trees planted... 25 of them, one for each soul lost. A 26th tree was planted for a body being transported home for burial. I know little of the story of this "body," but I do know something about losing a child. I was told all those years ago, that the "body's" mother was waiting to bury it. 25 years ago, I knew nothing yet of loss but I certainly felt so bad for that mother and the loss she had to deal with.

I now know that loss and I cannot imagine losing a child and not being able to be with them as they passed but then to lose them again, a second time, I would not survive that. It still haunts me when I think about it.

My husband came home from work that day and rode his mountain bike up to the park thinking he would see or hear something, but of course, like so many, he was turned away and unable to see anything. For that I am truly grateful. I know it would have haunted him deeply as did a few calls he ran on while serving as a volunteer in the fire department.

So, when you visit that park, see its beauty and its charm, but do take a second to remember the lives that stopped so abruptly that day. Do remember the impact that sacred place has known... Then enjoy the picnic and frisbee golf and the cool breezes that whisper through the trees. This is a beautiful place of peace and remembrance.


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