Laura and Brian Birdsong
Laura and Brian Birdsong were Decatur kids. They loved visiting the zoo, where Brian invariably headed to the World of Reptiles, dragging mom Isabelle Birdsong behind. Then they'd head downhill to the spot where the lions sunned themselves, their tails flicking at flies. Laura liked that.
The trio always wound up at the playground, hard against the tiny tracks where Zoo Atlanta's train has been making the circuit for decades. Mom would take a break while her kids ran and jumped like young animals. No surprise there: In the last year of their lives, Brian was 9, a third-grader; Laura, a beaming first-grader, was 6.
On April 5, 1991, they were on ASA flight No. 2311, a commuter airplane that crashed in a stand of trees near the Brunswick Glynco Jetport. The plane exploded —- one witness called the downed aircraft "a big metal mountain of rubble" —- and claimed the life of former Texas Sen. John Tower, among others.
Twenty-three people died that afternoon, including a boy who loved snakes and a girl charmed by cats.