Victim families mark 1 year since doomed Germanwings flight

In a solemn day of remembrance, grieving families gathered on Thursday in a French Alpine village to pay homage to loved ones a year after the co-pilot of a Germanwings plane flew the passenger jet into a mountainside, killing all 150 people aboard.

LE VERNET, France — In a solemn day of remembrance, grieving families gathered on Thursday in a French Alpine village to pay homage to loved ones a year after the co-pilot of a Germanwings plane flew the passenger jet into a mountainside, killing all 150 people aboard.

Some 800 people were expected at the commemoration that started with a private ceremony and a minute of silence. Families had the option to visit the crash site on the mountain overlooking Le Vernet. A wreath-laying was to be the only public moment as families of victims — mostly German and Spanish — mark the grim day.

The flight was en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked the pilot out of the cockpit and thrust the aircraft into an accelerated dive. France’s accident investigating body said in a report released this month that Lubitz’s remains bore traces of anti-depressants and a sleeping medication.

“It happened on our mountains, and we have victims’ families visiting us every week, families who come and pay tribute,” said Le Vernet Mayor Francois Balique.

Villagers in Le Vernet and nearby Prads-Haute-Bleone have taken on the role of second family for many of the grieving.

“Today, this bond is still alive, this friendship between the families and ourselves, we want to make it last, it’s very important for us. The role we set for ourselves is to accompany the families each time they come here, and comfort them as they mourn,” said Prads-Haute-Bleone Mayor Bernard Bartolini.

Since the crash, parent company Lufthansa has replaced the Germanwings brand with the name Eurowings.

A first responder to the disaster, Sebastien Beaud of the High Mountain Gendarmerie Unit, said in an interview on the eve of the commemoration that it quickly became clear that finding survivors was an impossible task.

“There’s smoke, flames, debris everywhere … human remains” in small fragments, he said, recalling walking down the mountainside.

Some families preferred to stay away from organized memorials.

Juergen Fischenich, who lost his 33-year-old son Sven in the crash, said family and friends would mourn privately.

“We’re not travelling to Le Vernet because we don’t want to be among a mass of people when we’re thinking about our son,” Fischenich said in an email.

Sven Fischenich, an HP employee and volunteer fireman, had been travelling home to his wife and baby daughter.

In another commemoration, mourners gathered in front of a church in the German town of Haltern am See for a minute of silence. Two teachers and 16 students from the town’s Joseph-Koenig high school died in the crash.

Town mayor Bodo Kimpel said the tragedy had brought people in the town closer together. “During this difficult time we found a common way to deal with this tragedy, the grief,” he said in an interview.

Lufthansa denies wrongdoing, and has so far offered no compensation beyond what is legally required under German law, riling some victims’ families.

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read