GREENSBURG (KDKA) — The man convicted in connection with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, has died.
The family of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi says he died in the Libyan capital of Tripoli Sunday.
He returned to his home country three years ago after being released from a Scottish prison on humanitarian grounds. Al-Megrahi suffered from prostate cancer.
Among the 270 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing were two college students from Westmoreland County.
Twenty-four years ago, a mid-air explosion caused Pan Am Flight 103 to crash, killing 270 people, including 189 Americans.
Beth Ann Johnson, 21, was a student at Seton Hill University in Greensburg when she died in the crash.
“He may be dead, but so is Beth. Nothing has changed for us,” said Carole Johnson, Beth Ann’s mother. “I put it in God’s hands a long time ago.”
Glenn and Carole Johnson were heartbroken and embittered over the loss of their daughter, a promising and talented student who was studying abroad.
Since 1988, the Johnsons have demanded justice. They were upset when al-Megrahi was freed from a Scottish prison for health reasons. They’ve long believed his conviction was not enough.
“It could not have been on his own,” said Glenn Johnson, Beth Ann’s father. “He had to have approval higher up the line.”
The couple joined an organization called Victims of Pan-Am Flight 103.
Over the years they’ve worked closely with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other government leaders in the search for answers.
“She’s assured us that every time, and I’ve seen transcripts of some of her meetings with the Libyans,” said Glenn Johnson. “She does bring it up on every meeting that they have. We still want information.”
Chances of getting more information improved after the government of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown.
“Just why was this undertaken, and why was this plane targeted?” Glenn Johnson added. “It has led to so much turmoil, over the years, and the families are still suffering from it.”
But the couple wants more than justice.
They’ve worked with government agencies to tighten airport security and to improve communication with families who lose loved ones during tragedies. They also help other students at Seton Hill realize their dreams in the arts.
“That’s where we find our happiness in helping others realize their dreams,” Carole Johnson said. “The dream that Beth had but was denied.”
CBS News: “Convicted Lockerbie bomber dies in Libya”
Pan Am 103 Victim’s Father Reflects On Qaddafi’s Death (10/20/11)