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Donna Griffith: A family reunited, then devastated by tragedy

Donna Griffith, the sister of Mark Griffith of

Donna Griffith, the sister of Mark Griffith of Hampton Bays, was among Flight 800's victims. Credit: Donna Griffith, the sister of Mark Griffith of Hampton Bays, was among Flight 800’s victims.

Mark Griffith, 60, Hampton Bays

In 1996: Suffolk County corrections officer

Now: Retired

Griffith lost his sister, Donna Griffith, 36, on the night of the TWA Flight 800 crash, about 5 miles from their mother’s Westhampton home.

After years of estrangement due to her drug and alcohol addiction, Donna Griffith had just begun talking with her mother again six months before the crash, Mark Griffith said.

“We were all getting back to being friends.”

He remembers how the loss devastated the family — especially his parents.

“It was a difficult time for all of us,” he said, but burying his sister’s remains gave his family a sense of closure.

Griffith didn’t know his sister that well; his clearest memories of her were as a child. But Donna Griffith was getting her life back on track. She had received a degree in social work from Audrey Cohen College — now the Metropolitan College of New York — in Manhattan and had been working as a counselor in the Department of Alcoholism Services at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

Her family donates money to the Families of TWA Flight 800 Association, which maintains a memorial and garden for the victims at Smith Point County Park in Shirley.

Mark Griffith said he attended the annual anniversary gathering at the memorial with his parents for the first few years after crash. But since his parents died, he doesn’t want to dredge up the bad memories.

“At some point, you’ve just got to let go,” he said.

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