MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - It's been 40 years since Eastern Flight 401 crashed into the Everglades, but no permanent memorial has been built to honor the people who lost their lives.
On Saturday, about 40 survivors and family members gathered to read the names of those who perished the night of December 29th, 1972.
Since Eastern Flight 401 does not have a memorial of its own, the ceremony today was held at the ValuJet 592 Memorial in Southwest Miami-Dade County.
"There's a special bond between all of us. All of our relatives, all of our lost loved ones. Such a connection,"
101 names were read at 4:01 p.m. as survivors and family members remembered loved ones who lost their lives.
Ronald Infantino was a 26-year old newlywed when he and his wife, Lily, took off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport along with 163 passengers and 13 crew members.
"Unless you've been through something like this, I mean, you can see how it affected people even 40 years later. It was a tragic thing," said Infantino.
While approaching Miami, the pilots were distracted by a burned-out cockpit indicator light and didn't notice the autopilot had been accidentally turned off.
"The flight crew was so preoccupied with a 50 cent light bulb, nobody was flying the plane. Sometimes we get bogged down with the little things in life and we miss the whole picture," he said.
By the time the flight crew realized the plane was losing altitude it was too late. Survivor and flight attendant Patricia McQuigg was found in the plane's wreckage.
"We were going very fast. I was sitting in my jump seat and just hoping and praying that I would be alive. All of the sudden we crashed,"
McQuigg says with every new flight, she remembers those lost in the crash.
"Still a flight attendant. I love flying. I love my job and it's in my heart," she said.
Loved ones and survivors want to raise $15,000 for a granite block containing the names of those who died. They would like the memorial to be on the grounds of the Glenn H. Curtis Mansion and Gardens near Miami International Airport.