Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Memorial to Crash of Valujet 592 Rising

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Memorial to Crash of Valujet 592 Rising

Article excerpt

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK -- Lee Sawyer has spent many Saturdays here, facing the vast liquid prairie that swallowed 110 people in a plane choked with smoke a day before Mother's Day 1996.

Her parents had boarded ValuJet Flight 592 en route to Atlanta with plans to attend their granddaughter's graduation from Emory University.

Since November, Sawyer has returned to this place about 15 miles west of Miami to chronicle the slow rise of a monument designed and built by volunteers to honor those killed. A dedication and memorial ceremony coinciding with the third anniversary of the crash will be held Tuesday.

"When I first saw it I said, `This is perfect,'" said Sawyer, a teacher at an alternative public school in Miami-Dade County. "I think it has very different meanings."

The nearly completed monument rests on a grassy knoll a few yards from a levee and is visible from Tamiami Trail, a two-lane road that cuts eastwest through the wilderness of the Everglades.

It consists of 110 columns of 16-inch concrete block, topped with four-sided pyramid shapes. It rests on a 2,450-square-foot triangular platform that points north toward the area where the DC-9 crashed.

The columns, which measure between 2 feet and 8 feet in height, are set apart equally in rows. A center aisle divides the rows, widening as the slope of the structure rises toward the south.

"Everyone wanted to have a spiritual sense to the project, and the 110 columns were meant to represent that," said Francilis Domond, 24, one of the designers and a recent graduate of the University of Miami.

Some landscaping and a plaque emblazoned with the names of the 105 passengers and five crew members will be added in coming weeks, Domond said.

Several members of the American Institute of Architecture Students formed teams last August and held a two-day brainstorming session at the University of Miami to come up with sketch designs for the memorial. …

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