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Ring finally returned to TWA victim's fiancé

stuart December 23, 1996
Web posted at: 10:50 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Christine Negroni

NEW YORK (CNN) -- As Julie Stuart walked out into the New York City streets Monday, she told reporters that she should have been planning her wedding this week. Instead, she finally got the engagement ring her fiancé was planning to give her more than five months ago.

Andrew Krukar took TWA Flight 800 to Paris on July 17. Stuart was to follow him a few days later, where he would present her with the 1.6-carat diamond ring. Minutes after the plane took off, it exploded and crashed into the Atlantic, killing all 230 people on board.


Amazingly, the ring was found floating in its box among the plane's debris in waters off Long Island.

It took Stuart four months of almost daily effort to get the ring back from the FBI. "I'm glad I have it, and I felt like Andy wanted me to have it, so I'm happy for that," she said Monday.

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"It's been a struggle for months and months to try to get the ring back, so in that sense, it's brought a sense of closure..." she said.

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To her and others who lost loved ones in Flight 800, her fight to recover the ring was a symbol of how difficult it has been for many to resolve their personal tragedies.

Several families complain that they cannot get autopsy reports. The medical examiners' office told CNN that unless it is forced to do so, it will not release them until a cause has been determined.


"In effect, what the medical examiners office is telling these family members, who have waited long enough already, is 'keep waiting, we won't tell you when you're going to get this information or if you will ever get it, but just keep waiting,'" said attorney Donald Nolan.

Relatives of some of the 15 passengers who still haven't been recovered also complain that the medical examiner was too slow to identify body parts through DNA analysis. Now, the medical examiner has asked the Army to help identify more than 100 pieces of skeletal remains pulled from the ocean.

Family members have been clashing with the agencies involved in the TWA 800 investigation since shortly after the crash, prompting calls for changes in the way family members are treated after future air disasters.

With ring in hand, Julie Stuart tries to explain a point she thinks some officials are still not grasping. The airplane crash, she says, isn't just about those who died, but about the ones who must try to live without them.


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