Victims of ’96 ValuJet plane crash in Everglades remembered

The lives of 110 people killed in a plane crash 25 years ago in the Everglades were remembered Tuesday.

The ValuJet flight, headed for Atlanta, crashed May 11, 1996, shortly after taking off from Miami International Airport.

Moms and dads, baseball coaches, and favorite uncles were among the passengers on Flight 592. Loved ones and first responders once again gathered Tuesday at the site of the crash.

Louise Laughlin was vice president of people and customer relations at ValuJet at the time of the crash. She knew Capt. Candi Kubeck very well, but said she felt that she got to know all 110 people on board through the people they left behind.

The flight wasn’t in the air for 10 minutes before the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit. In a news report after the crash, former CBS News correspondent Bob Orr described the problem.

“Right before the plane took off, the guys on the ramp loaded into the cargo hold some oxygen canisters. Once that fire began with all that oxygen supply by the canisters, it just roared out of control very, very quickly.”

The plane slammed into the Everglades, killing everyone on board.

“We had chartered several buses in; all of the victim’s family members were on the buses,” Laughlin recalled.

“They let a lot of family members go in there and peruse the area to see if they could find anything of their loved one, take it with them. And that was very sad. It was like any funeral. Nobody wants to go, but you try to remember the good things.”

She emotionally remembers Kubeck’s husband telling her he found his wife’s car keys.

The FBI’s Miami field office is still searching for an airline mechanic who may have had a role in the crash. Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes ran before a trial on charges of conspiracy and making false statements.

Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes (Credit: FBI)
Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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