NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former investigators of the TWA Flight 800 crash off Long Island are calling on the National Transportation Safety Board to re-examine the case.
The retired investigators claim that original findings on the cause of the crash were “falsified.” They are petitioning the NTSB to reopen the investigation based on new evidence and eyewitness accounts.
A documentary on the 1996 crash of the Paris-bound flight, which killed 230 people, is coming out in July.
The investigators claim they were not allowed to speak to the public or refute any comments made by their superiors or authorities at the time of the official crash investigation.
The NTSB concluded that Flight 800 was destroyed by a center fuel tank explosion, probably caused by a spark from a short-circuit in the wiring.
The retired investigators say this is a falsified finding, and will reveal their theories in the television documentary, which will air on TV network EPIX on July 17 at 8 p.m.
NTSB investigator Henry Hughes and five members of the original Flight 800 investigations are offering theories that question the NTSB’s findings, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“Test results were changed by the FBI lab and in some cases the NTSB changed some evidence tags,” Hughes said. “I believe it’s highly probable it was a missile. Whether it was a friendly missile by mistake or a terrorist missile, I don’t know.”
Initial speculation ranged from maintenance problems to a bomb and even a meteorite. Some critics theorized that a Navy missile accidentally brought down the jetliner.
The agency said Wednesday its four-year probe remains one of its “most detailed investigations.”
The NTSB issued the following statement Wednesday:
“While the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed and we can review any new information not previously considered by the Board,” said NTSB Communications Director Kelly Nantel.
“The NTSB is aware of the movie and the producers’ intent to file a petition for reconsideration. As required by NTSB regulation, a petition for reconsideration of Board findings or a probable cause determination must be based on the discovery of NEW evidence or on a showing that the Board’s findings are erroneous. At this point, the NTSB has not received a petition, however, we stand ready to review one, should it be filed.”
Mark Rosenker, a former NTSB chairman, stands by the original findings that the the crash “was an accident resulting from an electrical charge.”
CBS News senior producer Pat Milton, who wrote a book on the incident, agreed.
“There were 1,400 holes and slits and penetrations that were examined on the reconstructed plane. No evidence was found of a bomb or a missile,” Milton said.
Matthew Ziemkiewicz, the president of the National Air Disaster Alliance Foundation, lost his sister in the crash and said he doesn’t doubt the NTSB’s findings either.
“We’re kind of baffled by it because a lot of that stuff was discussed in the final report for the NTSB way back when they concluded the investigation,” Ziemkiewicz told 1010 WINS. “I have full faith and confidence in the safety board’s findings and recommendations.”
Ziemkiewicz said he is skeptical about the new evidence and said this is reopening old wounds.
“It’s revisiting a part of our lives 17 years ago that will never be the same,” Ziemkiewicz said. “I lost my sister, families have been ruined, lives have been forever change and certainly not for the better because of what happened on TWA 800. How any new information is going to change that outcome is beyond me.”
The NTSB said it will decide within two months whether to reopen the case, Kramer reported.
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