Information for Families, Friends and Survivors

The NTSB Transportation Disaster Assistance Division (TDA) provides information and assistance for family members and friends of accident victims and survivors in the immediate aftermath of an accident and in the months and years following. TDA also coordinates transportation disaster assistance activities and works with the transportation industry, communities, and representatives from all levels of government.

Information for Family, Friends, and Survivors regarding:TDA staff briefing

Major Air Carrier Accidents

If you are a family member, friend, or survivor, please contact the air carrier to ensure access to available services.

The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 requires the NTSB to coordinate the disaster response resources of federal, state, local, and volunteer agencies. TDA works closely with these agencies and the air carrier to meet the needs of aviation disaster victims and their families.

After an accident has occurred, a Family Assistance Center (FAC) will be established. The FAC is a secure meeting place for accident survivors, family members, and friends to receive information regarding the accident investigation, victim identification process, management of personal effects, and the provision of disaster crisis counseling services. Established by the air carrier and managed by TDA, the FAC is typically located in a hotel, conference center, or similar setting. Family members not traveling to the FAC can receive the same information and services as those provided on scene. Information about the FAC can be obtained by contacting the air carrier or NTSB.

While on scene, TDA will conduct briefings and provide updates during the investigation. Once the on-scene phase of the investigation is over, TDA will continue to serve as the primary contact and information resource for family members as the investigation proceeds.

Family members will be informed of any memorial service details at the FAC family briefings.

The NTSB does not coordinate interviews with media for family members, friends, and survivors. However, media representatives may attempt to contact family member, friend, and survivor after an accident.

The NTSB will not release the identities of victims or survivors of accidents. Such information may be released by the air carrier involved.

The NTSB will not determine the cause of an accident while on scene. Indeed, the cause may not be determined for 12 to 18 months after the accident. 

This brochure details TDA’s responsibilities during the accident investigation and the support provided to family members, friends, and survivors following a major air carrier accident.

The Federal Family Assistance Plan for Aviation Accident and Frequently Asked Questions located under Appendix H in the Federal Family Assistance Plan for Aviation Disasters may answer further questions about the legislative requirements and responsibilities to family members during an accident investigation.

General Aviation Accidents

Family members, friends, and survivors involved in general aviation accidents can contact TDA regarding questions pertaining to the accident.
Although there is no legal requirement for TDA to respond to general aviation accidents, TDA Specialists work with NTSB investigators and local and state agencies to coordinate assistance and information for family members, friends, and survivors either via telephone or on-scene, as requested.
The NTSB does not coordinate interviews with media for family members, friends, or survivors. However, media representatives may attempt to contact family member, friend, and survivor after an accident.

The NTSB will not release the identities of victims or survivors of accidents. Such information may be released by the transportation company involved.

The NTSB will not determine the cause of an accident while on scene. Indeed, the cause may not be determined for 12 to 18 months after the accident. 
This brochure describes what family members, friends, and survivors can expect throughout a general aviation accident investigation.


Major Rail Passenger Accidents

TDA Staff member Max Green

If you are a family member, friend, or survivor, please contact the rail carrier to ensure access to available services.

The Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act of 2008 requires the NTSB to coordinate the disaster response resources of federal, state, local, and volunteer agencies following a major rail passenger accident involving Amtrak.

TDA works closely with these agencies and Amtrak to meet the needs of those affected by a rail passenger disaster including family members, friends, and survivors.

After an accident has occurred, a Family Assistance Center (FAC) will be established. The FAC is a secure meeting place for accident survivors, family members, and friends to receive information regarding the accident investigation, victim identification process, management of personal effects, and the provision of disaster crisis counseling services. Established by the air carrier and managed by TDA, the FAC is typically located in a hotel, conference center, or similar setting. Family members not traveling to the FAC can receive the same information and services as those provided on scene. Information about the FAC can be obtained by contacting the air carrier or NTSB.

While on scene, TDA will conduct briefings and provide updates during the investigation. Once the on-scene phase of the investigation is over, TDA will continue to serve as the primary contact and information resource for family members as the investigation proceeds.

Family members will be informed of any memorial service details at the FAC family briefings.

The NTSB does not coordinate interviews with media for family members, friends, and survivors. However, media representatives may attempt to contact family members, friends, and survivors after an accident.

The NTSB will not release the identities of victims or survivors of accidents. Such information may be released by the rail carrier involved.

The NTSB will not determine the cause of an accident while on scene. Indeed, the cause may not be determined for 12 to 18 months after the accident. 

The Federal Family Assistance Plan for Rail Passenger Disasters may answer further questions about the legislative requirements and responsibilities to family members during an accident investigation.

Other transportation accidents

TDA BriefingFamily members, friends, and survivors involved in certain non-aviation or Amtrak rail passenger accidents investigated by NTSB should contact TDA regarding questions pertaining to the accident.

These transportation modes include selected rail operations, marine, highway, and pipeline.

Although there is no legal requirement for TDA to respond to accidents in these modes, TDA staff work with NTSB investigators and local and state agencies to coordinate assistance and information for family members, friends, and survivors either via telephone or on-scene,  as requested.


Crisis Counseling Support

TDA coordinates with the American Red Cross to provide crisis counseling and short term disaster mental health services for family members, friends, and survivors. Through their local chapters across the country, the American Red Cross partners with professional mental health providers who have received disaster response training. Use of this service is voluntary and is offered throughout the United States to family members, friends, and survivors of transportation accidents investigated by the NTSB.

Victim Identification Process

Victim recovery, identification and death certification are the responsibility of the local medical examiner or coroner. Death certificate procedures differ by state and the medical examiner or coroner office is familiar with these procedures. An autopsy may be conducted by the medical examiner or coroner to determine the cause of death. Family members should contact the medical examiner or coroner regarding questions regarding the autopsy. Final disposition of remains is the decision of the legal next of kin.

To assist in the identification process, family members should obtain contact information for the doctor and dentist of the victim. Additional information, such as military service and employment history may help in locating certain records. Family members may also be asked to provide a DNA sample. All information collected is confidential and will be managed only by forensic personnel under the guidance of the medical examiner or coroner.

Personal Effect Management

For major air carrier and rail passenger accidents, the processing and returning of personal effects is the responsibility of the air carrier or rail operator. Carriers and operators often designate a third party vendor to manage this process. The vendor will furnish family members with information on the process used to return personal effects.

For other types of accidents, personal effects are typically the responsibility of local law enforcement and the medical examiner or coroner. Often, personal effects associated with the victim are returned to the family by the funeral home in coordination with the medical examiner or coroner. Family members should contact the medical examiner or coroner or local law enforcement with questions regarding personal effects.

Overseas Accidents involving American citizens

The NTSB has no legal role in family assistance support following an overseas accident involving American citizens. The US Department of State's Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management coordinates activities and efforts relating to international crises or emergency situations involving the welfare and safety of large numbers of Americans residing or traveling in a crisis area. Such crises can include plane crashes, hijackings, natural disasters, civil disorders, and political unrest.
Families in the United States whose American citizen relatives abroad may be directly affected by the crisis can contact the Department of State through the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management at (202) 647-5225 or at their website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1212.html

TDA Contacts

NTSB Transportation Disaster Assistance Division

assistance@ntsb.gov

Toll Free - (800) 683-9369
Direct - (202) 314-6185
Fax - (202) 459-9402 ! NEW

Director - Paul Sledzik

Headquarters
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594

 NTSB Conference Center
429 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594

Directions to Conference Center


Link to Webcast.


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