A year after an Alaska Airlines flight plunged into the sea, killing 88 people, the victims' friends and relatives went out in boats to visit the spot where the jet went down.
They also went to a warehouse to see recovered bits of the plane, now arranged nose-to-tail like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
The visits were arranged Tuesday and will continue today for about 750 relatives and friends. Of the 88 victims, only seven were not represented by family members.
Tuesday afternoon, 18 charter buses carrying mourners were escorted by the California Highway Patrol about 25 miles to Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Los Angeles for a service to bury a casket with body parts the coroner could not identify.
Four ministers led the 25-minute service that concluded with songs by high school students. Joining the singers on "Amazing Grace" was 16-year-old Carla Gilbert, a relative of one of the crash victims.
The service concluded with the release of 88 doves that briefly circled the grave, then flew away. Mourners scattered dirt and flowers over the coffin as it was lowered into a burial vault whose cover was inscribed with the words, "We Will Always Remember You, Alaska Air Flight 261."
"It was a very powerful service for those who were present. There were tears," said the families' spokesman, Peter Teahen.
Looking for Closure in Unrecognizable Wreckage
During the earlier visit to the warehouse, Anarudh Prasad of Seattle said what mourners saw was an unrecognizable collection of wreckage. His mother, who fainted at the sight of it, was taken to a hospital for examination and later released.
"I guess we just kind of have to go on and help our parents get through this," said Prasad, whose brother died in the crash.
Matthew Manning and his brother Peter, both of Seattle, visited the crash site eight miles offshore where their sister, brother-in-law and two nieces died a year ago.
"We came just to remember," Matthew Manning said as he got off the boat. "I lost four family members on Flight 261. I wanted closure. It's putting closure to it. It's tough to put into words. There's been tears for a year."
Earlene Shaw, whose husband of 16 years died in the crash, said the ocean visit "was very emotional. It was like you could visualize it happening. It feels like I could get a little closer."
Boat trips to the site were halted an hour earlier than planned Tuesday because winds picked up and made the seas too choppy.
"It's sad, so sad," Silver Strand resident Nancy Fry said Monday after planting a white, wooden cross in the sand, framing the setting sun as it dropped behind Anacapa Island near the impact site.
"I just want the families to know we care," the 49-year-old mother of 10 said as she lovingly arranged white plastic flowers on the cross encrusted with sea shells, topped by a Teddy bear and reading, "Remember Flight 261, One Year Later."
A few miles away at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, hub for crash memorial activity, the marquee read, "Our community remembers Flight 261."
Remembered With Treasured Items
It was a sunny, cloudless day with glassy seas as relatives, most wearing jeans, running shoes and ball caps, arrived by bus at Channel Islands Harbor and boarded volunteer boats at seven-minute intervals starting at dawn.
The Red Cross handed out coffee, Kleenex and carnations.