On January 13th, 1982, Air Florida flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport (now Reagan National) bound for Fort Lauderdale. 30 seconds after taking off, the aircraft struck the 14th Street bridge and careened into the Potomac. Of the 79 souls on board, only 5 survived. And of those who died, the one who will long be remembered is 46-year-old bank examiner, Arland D. Williams Jr.
From a Washington Post article dated January 14, 1982 (before Williams’ name was known), “A Hero – Passenger Aids Others, Then Dies.”
He was about 50 years old, one of half a dozen survivors clinging to twisted wreckage bobbing in the icy Potomac when the first helicopter arrived. To the copter’s two-man Park Police crew he seemed the most alert. Life vests were dropped, then a flotation ball. The man passed them to the others. On two occasions, the crew recalled last night, he handed…
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