With the shattered remains of TWA Flight 800 becoming smaller and fewer and winter seas limiting divers' visibility, the FAA announced yesterday that it will halt the recover operation by week's end. FAA officials report that with over 80% of the aircraft recovered, the cause of the crash has not been clearly identified; however, they are focusing their investigation on mechanical failure. TWA is funding continuing operations to simulate crash conditions in order to identify the source of the fatal mishap. An airline spokeswoman responded to our request for comments by stating "It is our policy to thoroughly review all possible causes of this tragedy in order to reach the appropriate conclusion. We believe that the families and loved ones of the victims support our efforts to provide them with the answers they deserve".
Settlements to the families of plane crash victims are capped at $75,000, except in the event of willful misconduct.
In a surprise press conference this morning, famed San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli made the shocking accusation that TWA was withholding evidence pointing to sabotage. "I shall personally represent each and every victim of this tragic event and prove to the world that foul play was indeed the cause", stated Belli.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, within days of this unfortunate crash it became apparent that a thorough and unbiased investigation would not occur. Therefore, my firm enlisted the services of several Long Island commercial fishing fleets to collect all marine life inhabiting a 50-mile radius of the crash site. These sub-surface species are the most reliable witnesses to the events of July 17 and carry valuable forensic evidence that will lead us directly to the perpetrator". Over 1.5 million fish, both dead and alive, were captured.
In an exclusive interview following the press conference, Mr. Belli produced what he claimed was key evidence linking the crash to sabotage: Fragments of a detonator found in the stomach of a striped bass. Belli stated that the detonator is consistent with a similar bomb known to have been seized from French terrorists in 1987. "This will be an open-and-shut case and financial justice will prevail", boasted Belli, as he displayed the dissected remains of the fish known as morone saxatilis. "We have additional evidence suggesting that one of the passengers was en route to Paris to testify in counter-terrorism hearings. His name is being withheld pending notification of the French authorities".
In an eleventh-hour act of desperation, a senior manager of TWA snatched the fish and fled to the San Francisco County Coroner's Office. DNA analysis of the fish revealed that it could not have lived in Long Island and was, in fact, a descendent of a family of striped bass transplanted from the Atlantic to the Pacific in the 1870's. Chemical residue present in the lungs suggested that the fish lived in the waters near Oakland, California, approximately five miles from Mr. Belli's office.
TWA immediately filed a $17,000,000 libel suit against Mr. Belli and the New York Port Authority is expected to file suit for illegal search and seizure and wrongful endangerment of wildlife. Mayor Giuliani met today with officials of the FAA and TWA and praised their efforts to identify the cause of the mechanical failure. Mr. Belli could not be reached for comment.
(Swans has not verified the statements presented herein and makes no claim to their authenticity.)