When an aviation disaster occurs, the families of the victims are often left to deal with an array of difficult emotions and circumstances. For one such family member, Jennifer Stansberry Miller, it was a reality that she was not prepared to handle. Unfortunately, as she found out at the time, neither was the aviation industry.
The End that Started it All
On October 31, 1994, Jennifer’s brother, Brad, was killed in the plane crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 in Roselawn, Indiana, an aviation disaster that killed all 64 passengers and 4 crew members on board. A series of disturbing events, from receiving misidentified remains to never identifying Brad’s body, led Jennifer and her family down a path that would ensure a more compassionate, thorough process for victims’ families in the future. She wouldn’t have to do it alone; she joined other individuals who had been through similar experiences and were escalating the issue to the United States Congress, where the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 was put into law. Now, almost 19 years later, Jennifer co-launched an outreach program for victims’ family members called the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Project. The objective is to determine whether or not the processes that were put into place in the late ’90s are helping people today. Jennifer, along with facilitator, Terri Henry Severin, assembled a lengthy survey to get a better understanding of how well the Act serves victims’ families after an aviation disaster. The results of the survey can be found here or by visiting the website for The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Project. The hope is that the work that Jennifer and Terri are doing will help to ensure families are provided the services and care they need after tragic events.