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Nonprofit loses goods in cargo plane crash but gives to those who lost family


Hal Yeager / AP

NTSB investigators work around the tail section of the UPS cargo plane that crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on Wednesday. The A300 jet crash-landed in a field near the airport, killing the two pilots on board and scattering wreckage over a wide area.

A not-for-profit organization based in Alabama lost a valuable shipment of goods in the UPS cargo plane crash on Wednesday morning but is focused on helping the families of the two pilots who lost their lives.

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Freeset, an outfit that sells bags and clothes made by women who were freed from human trafficking in India, lost its entire fall inventory of bags, worth $150,000, in Flight 1354's deadly crash, according to company President Kirsti Griem.

The 13,000 bags were en route to the organization's headquarters in Birmingham when the plane went down near Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said, “We are working with [customers] on addressing their claims.”

Griem said that customers who had already placed orders were “gracious” when they learned of the shipment’s status.

“It is a loss,” she said, “but at the end of the day, it is just stuff. The families of the pilots have been tragically affected.”

So while Freeset has been looking to replace the bags, the organization also started selling memorial T-shirts on Thursday for the victims of the plane crash.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of Freeset’s memorial T-shirts will be given the families of the two pilots who died in the crash.

The pilots have been identified as Shanda Fanning, 37, of Tennessee, and Cerea Beal Jr., 58, from North Carolina.

Meanwhile on Thursday, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Robert Sumwalt said that the "black boxes" from the tragic flight had been recovered.

He said the pilots did not make any distress calls before the plane crashed and subsequently caught on fire, and investigators have not determined what caused the plane to go down.

"We are optimistic we will be able to obtain good data from those recorders," Sumwalt said at a press conference.

Sumwalt said that when the NTSB is finished sorting through the wreckage, the remnants — including any commercial cargo — would likely end up in an airport salvage yard.