August 17, 1997 in Nation/World

Last Twa 800 Victims Identified

Associated Press

The last two victims of TWA Flight 800 have been identified, 13 months after the Paris-bound plane crashed off of Long Island.

With DNA tests confirming the final two victims on Friday, all 230 people aboard the plane have now been identified.

The last victims identified were Janet O’Hara, 39, of Irvington and Jean-Jacques Zara, 59, of Gouviex, France, Terri Freda, spokeswoman for the Suffolk County Medical Examiner, said Saturday.

O’Hara, whose husband and 14-year-old daughter also died aboard the plane, was the very last, Newsday reported Saturday.

“We always knew she was on the plane,” O’Hara’s younger brother, Steven Schmitz, told Newsday, “but we just wanted to know what had happened to her.”

“It’s a load off of my parents’ minds and hearts,” said Schmitz, of Langhorne, Pa.

TWA Flight 800 is the first commercial plane crash in which DNA samples were obtained for every victim - from relatives or personal effects, including hairbrushes, toothbrushes, clothing and stubble from electric razors.

The Boeing 747 jumbo jet exploded and crashed off Long Island’s south shore on July 17, 1996, just minutes after leaving Kennedy International Airport for Paris.

Investigators say the plane’s center fuel tank exploded but the cause is unknown. They are leaning toward some form of mechanical failure, while not ruling out a bomb or missile.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email