(CNN) – This should have been the view from the window seat, high in the sky, instead it may have been their last glimpse of life flashing by.
“I saw the plane heading down along the valley and I said my god its going to hit the mountain. I ducked my head. But then it seemed to veer left. After that I saw the smoke.” Jean Varrieras said.
The people seem wary of outsiders in these close knit mountain villages, but slowly shepherd Jean Varrieras tells me what’s troubling him, “It’s terrible. You just can’t imagine something like that. One day that will come back to haunt me and give me nightmares.” he says.
Those first aerial images showed flight 9525 went down less than one minute away, in this treacherous, almost inaccessible ravine. Investigators’ had warned us to stay away.
I thought the families deserved to see where their loved ones lay. Few people live up here, few signposts point the way.
From my vantage point above the crash site it seemed recovery teams were clinging on by their fingertips. So steep the sides of that windblown gully, so lonely those travelers lying now in plastic shrouds.
For more than a week rescuers refused to bow to nature, risking their own lives. Treating the dead like they were family, “I lost friends and mountaineers in the past. Our code is never to leave anybody in the mountains.” recovery team manager Yvez Naffrechoux said.
At a simple marble memorial close-by, the living came to weep for their dead. The village mayor vows he’ll cherish them and never forget.
“We have a duty to look after their memories. We must share the pain of the families,” Mayor Francois Balique said.
This young woman named Mahshid felt ready to share a few thoughts of her big brother Milad. He was an Iranian soccer journalist aboard that flight.
“He once said to one of his friends if someone is killed in a crash it would be okay because it is for one minute and it will be gone and you’re in the sky where your soul will go but he spent eight minutes to fell down,” said Mahshid Elsami.
Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr came to lay a wreath. He’s already admitted the co-pilot on that flight first reported mental health issues to Lufthansa back in 2009.
If Spohr wasn’t giving any answers at least I hope he heard the question on everybody’s lips.
Families may never really find out why, but just perhaps they can discover peace amid these mountain meadows and crystal streams. Or draw solace from a sister desperately missing a brother, “Everything is great for him. Not for us. We just can calm ourselves down with the picture that he is now the king of the Alps,” Elsami continued.
Copyright CNN 2015