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Beverly Raposa

Definition: A flight attendant who was aboard the plane during the crash. Beverly did several heroic things such as sing Christmas carols to help keep survivors calm, and to tell everyone not to light a match due to the smell of jet fuel.


In the remote section of the crash near the tail, Raposa gathered passengers and split her attention between them and Ruiz, hurt and stranded feet away. "I have to go help the others," Raposa told Ruiz. "Promise to come back."

Raposa wiped away the muck on her wings pin -- so she could be identified -- and went back to work.

"I felt that these poor people were still my responsibility," said Raposa, who credits her faith and Portuguese background for her spunk.

Raposa gathered up airline seats and set up a sitting section in the middle of nowhere.

"No one knows where we are?" an anxious passenger asked Raposa.

"They know exactly where we are. They'll be here soon."

"We're in the middle of the Everglades -- what about alligators?" one passenger asked.

"Don't worry, we made such a racket landing, I'm sure they all ran away," Raposa told the group of about 10 passengers now with her near the remote tail section of the wreckage.

To calm everyone, Raposa led survivors in renditions of Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snow Man.

It would not be until 3:30 a.m. -- nearly four hours after the crash - before her group, the last out, would be rescued.

"I will never forget what Beverly did that night," said Coviello, a legal assistant at a Pembroke Pines law firm. "Some people just rise to the occasion in a tragedy. She was a true leader."

Raposa, who was among the last to be taken from the crash site, still recalls the rescue team was led by her boss, Frank Borman, the former astronaut who was then an Eastern vice president.

"He saw my wings and asked me: 'What happened?' I said 'Colonel, I have no idea. We had absolutely no warning.'"

Borman handed his leather bomber jacket to the freezing Ruiz, who used it to wrap the baby boy she had been holding for hours.


Eastern Flight 401


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  external linkRemembering Eastern Flight 401: The Story of the Crash |



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