PITTSBURGH — All this week we remember the 132 people who died when US Air Flight 427 crashed in Beaver County, 25 years ago this week.
This tragedy was hard for the families involved to get information and led them to help pass the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996. But for one Westmoreland County mother, she learned the hard way about her son's death as she didn't even know he was on Flight 427.
"How do you kind of have that demeanor and that strength to carry on after all this time?" asked Channel 11 reporter Melanie Marsalko.
"Truly, truly I'll tell you something I grew up when this happened," said Carol Lynn. "I don't sweat the small stuff, what good would that do? It wouldn't bring Kirk back. I will always miss him; I wish he was walking in my front door. But, I can't do anything about it. I hope to see him someday. But I have a feeling of contentment because he's with his dad now."
After 25 years, Carol Lynn still remembers Sept. 8, 1994, like it was yesterday. Her husband came home from work and asked her why she wasn't watching the news. There had been a plane crash outside of Pittsburgh International Airport, and her son was expected home that evening from Chicago.
"He wasn't supposed to be on that flight," said Lynn. "So I didn't think it. He was done early, so he got the earlier flight because the day after he was having a flea market in his yard. So he jumped the earlier flight to come home."
Her 26-year old son, Kirk Lynn got done with work early that day and hopped on Flight 427. More than a handful of employees from PNC Bank were on board. But for seven hours, Carol Lynn never knew.
"I said he's such a nut," said Carol Lynn. "He probably doesn't even know there's a crash and got his truck and went home. But that's not how it happened. I called Chicago and greater Pittsburgh and we never really found out for sure until 2:30 in the morning."
Carol Lynn says the last 25 years; time seems to stand still.
"It went so fast," said Lynn. "I can't believe it. Kirk was 26. Now, he would be 52; I can't believe that. He will always be 26."
Carol Lynn always wonders what Kirk Lynn would look like now, what he would be doing, what his kids could've looked like, but she reflects on the time she had with him and the strong faith instilled in him.
"When he was little he was so religious," said Carol Lynn. "But when he was a little boy and played little league ball, he sewed a cross on his baseball hat; I did not know it until he was gone."
It's a tragedy that not only hit home for Carol Lynn but all of the Pittsburgh region.
"You don't have something like that happen every day of your life," said Carol Lynn. "Especially you don't think your own child is going to be on it."
Carol Lynn still wears Kirk Lynn's college ring around her neck often but especially on holidays, and family get-togethers when she wants Kirk Lynn to be there.
"When he was on that flight, they found it," said Carol Lynn. "His name is in it and everything so they gave it to me which I'm very thankful for, but that's probably how they identified him."
Kirk Lynn recorded some songs on a tape before he was killed. It's played every Lenten service in Carol Lynn's Ligonier Church. Those songs were put on a CD. That CD generated $70,000 in sales for the church and a scholarship in his name at Wheaton College, where he graduated. Every year someone from Pennsylvania is awarded the Kirk Lynn Scholarship.
"So we hear every year, bittersweet, Carol Lynn said. "They're (the student) enjoying the scholarship. I wish I was enjoying him."
Every year, Carol Lynn remembers her son and the other 132 souls on board. Every year, she goes to the crash site to reflect.
"It will always be on my mind," said Lynn. "Every day of my life. Something comes into the picture, and he's involved. But he was the last one, and he was my baby. We have gone every year to the crash site, and we will do that. I'll go until I'm not here anymore."
But Carol Lynn finds comfort and peace in knowing Kirk Lynn's faith stood firm in the short 26 years she had with him.
"He walked every day of his life with the Lord," said Carol Lynn. "On the back of his truck he had a saying, 'Have no fear, the Lord is near.' So maybe the Lord wanted him right then and there. Everyone says he's singing in the choir in heaven."
There is a memorial at PNC Plaza in Pittsburgh dedicated to the employees that lost their lives on Flight 427.
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