Tonight marks a decade since the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence Center. All 49 people aboard the plane and one person on the ground, were killed. This tragic loss of life left families without fathers, mothers, daughters and sons. And it left a Lancaster woman without her husband.
When Robin Tolsma went to bed that night 10 years ago her life felt like a fairytale. She was married to the love of her life Darren and they had a beautiful family. He was away on business and had switched his flight to an earlier one that night — he wanted to be there to say goodnight to his kids.
When Robin woke up early the next morning everything changed.
Realizing Darren wasn’t there, she called her husband several times but all the calls went to voice mail. Robin learned of the crash on TV and it wasn’t until hours later that the airline called and confirmed her worst fears.
She says she had to suppress her feelings and put her kids, Darren Jr. and Nikki first. Robin says she grieved during private moments and was eventually able to channel her pain into action. She fought alongside other 3407 families, lobbying in D-C for stricter rules addressing pilot fatigue and increased training hours. Ten years later, she no longer makes the trip but she still writes letters to congress to make sure the new safety standards aren’t watered down.
Robin also wrote a book about the experience called “Every Changed.” She says putting her experience on paper helped her come to terms with the tragedy and find peace. But that wasn’t enough for Robin, she wanted to help others dealing with grief get back on their feet too.
She decided she wanted to help others dealing with loss and she gives them advice from her own experience. “You don’t have to think long term, get through the day and if you can’t get through the day, get through this minute,” she said. “Because this minute will turn into another minute, that minute will turn into an hour. That hour will turn into a day. And when you go to bed at night you think, I did it.”
And Robin took it one minute, one day at a time. She says she lives every day of her life for Darren.