Even a week later, the crash of Continental Flight 3407 into a residential area of Buffalo continues to have ramifications in the sports world. First it was the Buffalo Sabres players and coaches who witnessed the plane crash from their homes in the tony Clarence Center suburb. Now the ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE has the story of Jeff Smith, an AHL hockey referee whose last-minute change of flights likely saved the lives of he and his family.
Smith, his wife and their two children were scheduled to fly up from their home in Florida to Newark then Buffalo. Smith would be working games in Toronto, Rochester and Hamilton, while his family came along as a sort of winter vacation. But Continental gate agent Jackie Papa thought the turbulence expected on Flight 3407 would be unsettling for his children, so she suggested they switch flights.