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Families of victims identified in deadly B-17 crash at Bradley Airport speak

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(WTNH) — Victims killed in the deadly B-17 bomber crash at Bradley International Airport on Wednesday were identified Thursday.

Related: Officials release names of those involved in B-17 plane crash at Bradley Airport

One of the victims was Robert Riddell, 59, of East Granby. His family released his name overnight Wednesday.

News 8 believes Riddell worked at The Hartford insurance company. His wife, Debra, tells ABC News they were getting ready to celebrate their wedding anniversary. His wife calling him “The best person I’ve ever known.”

Robert Riddell – Presumed Deceased

Riddell was a history buff and always dreamed of a trip on “The Flying Fortress.” Debra said Riddell paid $450.00 for the short flight, and that there were early signs of trouble Wednesday morning at Bradley.

Debra watched in horror as the vintage B-17 with her husband on board slammed into a warehouse and burst into flames. Rob was texting her from the plane as it was struggling mid-air.

She said that the last text she received from him was “TURBULENCE.”

“He shouldn’t have had to die,” she said. “I just feel this should not have happened. One of the things I keep saying over and over and over when I’m alone and I’m talking to myself is: ‘This should not be happening.'”

Another of the victims was identified as former Captain and Police Inspector Gary Mazzone, according to the Vernon Police Department. Captain Mazzone served the Vernon Police Department for 22 years.

Gary Mazzone – Presumed Deceased

As per Mazzone’s LinkedIn profile, Mazzone also served as the Police Inspector for the Chief State’s Attorney Office for the past 21 years. 

Related: Family member of B-17 bomber crash survivor, Mitch Melton, speaks

David Broderick was another victim of Wednesday’s crash. He a Collins Aerospace employee.

The company said in a statement Thursday: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of David Broderick. He was a valued employee, who was deeply respected by the customers he served. He will be missed by all who came to know him over the course of his many years of service at Collins Aerospace. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.” 

A total of seven lives were lost, and several other people are still in the hospital after the crash. There were three crews members and ten passengers on board that World War II-era B-17.

RELATED: 7 dead in World War II plane crash at Connecticut airport, one victim identified

One worker on the ground was also injured as the bomber crashed into a maintenance building at the end of runway.

The 909 had just taken off on a fifteen minute flight experience when it had some kind of mechanical problem and turned around to land.

We are now learning the loss of life could have been much worse if it were not for a current serviceman on that old plane.

RELATED: Air National Guard command chief hailed hero after pulling passengers from crashed plane at Bradley Airport

The head of the National Guard says the Command Chief of the Air National Guard’s 103rd fighter wing happened to be on board on his day off.

“And he is very familiar with the back of an aircraft, very lucky that he had gloves on, our understanding is that he popped the hatch and was able to extract some individuals,” Maj. General Francis Evon of the CT National Guard.

To help you picture what it was like, there are no seats in the back of the plane. Passengers sit on the floor leaning against the side of the plane and there are seat belts attached to the floor that they put across their laps. That rear hatch is quite small, by the way, so dragging other people through it would not have been easy.

The NTSB is now investigating. While they do, runway six of Bradley International is still closed.

RELATED: DPH, Town of Windsor issue health advisory due to firefighting foam from Bradley Airport fire

The airport re-opened after about three hours; those closures created delays and cancellations throughout the week.

RELATED: How Hartford Hospital prepares for incidents like Bradley Airport crash

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