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Time hasn't dulled survivor's pain

Lychner January 17, 1997
Web posted at: 6:00 a.m. EST

From Correspondent Mary Ann McGann

(CNN) -- Joe Lychner believes everything happens for a reason.

But he has not yet found a reason for the death of his wife and two young daughters aboard TWA Flight 800.

"I don't really want to make my entire life a testament to this crash," Lychner says. "I don't think that's the right thing to do. What you need to be able to do is take this and turn it into something good. And right now that's what I'm trying to figure out -- what it is I'm supposed to do with it."

Coming home to a big empty house is one of the hardest parts, says Lychner. That house was filled with laughter until six months ago. icon (187K/8 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

"It's a house made for a family," he says. "I never go upstairs anymore. I live in the bedroom and kitchen."


As Abby, the family dog, barks in the background, Lychner says she misses Pam and the girls a lot, too.

Abby was a Christmas gift for Katie and Shannon two years ago.

"It seems like forever, but then, sometimes I wake up in the morning, and it feels like I'm still back in bed at the Ramada," he replies.

Searching for answers

That hotel, near John F. Kennedy airport in New York, is where families gathered after the crash to hear word of their loved ones.


Lychner became a spokesman for the families, a quiet voice of pain. icon ( 476K/8 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

"We are not children," he said. "We've already lost everything we can possibly lose. We call upon the federal government, the governor's office and everybody involved in this investigation to give us all the information that they have as soon as they get it, and do it now."

Nearly two dozen lawsuits have been filed against TWA on the part of several families. Lychner is not currently among them.

These days, Lychner has returned to work at his job at a computer software company in Houston.

To help ease the pain, he and friends of the family have hired a sculptor to design a tribute to his wife and daughters.

"It's Pam with her arms around the two girls, kind of in a kneeling position," he says.

Sculptor Patrick McGuire explains the pose.


"We tried to put them into a close, tight bond where they're right next to each other -- where the mother's still protecting them," he says.

Lychner hopes the sculpture will carry a message. "What I hope people get out of this when they come to see this sculpture is, they'll realize just how important their family is and hopefully go back and be re-committed to what's really important."

There's also a Web page for the Lychners, a computerized memorial.

"This one says, 'Dear Katie, I miss you very much. Even though you won't be at school anymore, you'll always be in my heart,'" Lychner reads.

The girls' rooms are unchanged. Lychner says he can't yet move out of the house his family once shared.

"I couldn't possible bring myself to even think about packing their things up," he says. "That's too final. It hurts. But at the same time, it's sort of a link to the past, too, and I'm not ready to break that tie."


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