American cable car victims identified

Los Angeles Times and The New York Times

KAPRUN, Austria — Forensic investigators delved Monday into the grisly task of matching dental records and DNA samples with the charred remains of at least 159 people killed in a horrific ski cable car fire inside a tunnel under Kitzsteinhorn mountain. It could take weeks to identify all the bodies.

As helicopters ferried the first 66 bodies to a morgue in nearby Salzburg, the U.S. Army announced that eight young Americans from military facilities in Germany had perished in the blaze.

The Army on Monday identified the Americans as Maj. Michael C. Goodridge, 36, of Texas, his wife Jennifer, 35, and their sons, Michael, 7, and Kyle, 5.

The others were Paul A. Filkil, 46, the husband of an Army civilian employee in Germany, and his son Ben, 15, as well as First Lt. Erich R. Kern, 25, of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and Second Lt. Carrie L. Baker, 23, of Florida.

Kern and Baker had announced their engagement last week.

The Army also dispatched a five-member forensic team to assist the Austrians, who were trying to identify corpses that have been burned beyond recognition.

Shocked and grieving relatives have been asked for personal effects such as hair brushes or razors used by the missing to provide DNA samples for identification, said Edith Tutsch-Bauer, chief forensic pathologist for the Salzburg area. It will probably take four weeks to complete the identifications, she said.

Bodies still trapped in the cable car wreckage will be much more difficult to recover because the carriage was melted down to the chassis, entombing those victims, said Maj. Franz Lang, head of the criminal investigation service of the Salzburg state police commandos, is directing the recovery operation.

Lighting and radio communications were also set up for the emergency crews later in the day, speeding up work that officials here describe as so gruesome that many of those involved have had to seek counseling.

Authorities still had no clues to the cause of the tragedy and were investigating all possibilities, Lang said.

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