Peter Turner, 49
In 1996: Lived in Quogue, worked for a tech startup firm
Now: An investment banker who lives in Miami
Turner clearly recalls the sounds he heard outside his home on July 17, 1996—the night TWA Flight 800 exploded, raining debris on the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island.
“I remember hearing it from the window,” he said. “It was like a double sound. I remember hearing two impact booms. I thought it was fireworks.”
After overhearing people on Dune Road talking about a plane going down, he and his younger brother Neil Turner went out to the crash scene in a boat to see if they could help rescue victims. However, Peter Turner said, neither was prepared for what they saw—debris, wreckage and bodies floating in the water, which glowed eerily from the lights of search helicopters above.
“My stomach dropped,” he said.
Some of the stark images Turner saw that night 20 years ago have stayed with him: a floating leather jacket wrapped in plastic, which he guessed was intended as a present for someone, and a slew of personal items from those aboard the doomed flight floating in the water.
“I got emotional,” Turner said. The experience was so haunting for them, he said, that when a nearby ship rescued the brothers after their boat ran out of gas, the captain of the vessel “described [the looks on their faces] as being like a thousand yard stare.”
Turner was so moved by the experience that he decided to shoot a film in Quogue in 1999 called “The Return,” about a businessman who re-evaluates his life after coming back from an accident at an airport. Now married with two children and working as a licensed investment banker in Miami, Turner said he hasn’t talked much about the crash with his brother.
When it comes to remembering the crash, he said, “It feels like it’s an unresolved story.”