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'I want justice': Family of 737 Max crash victims react to announcement of upcoming Boeing arraignment

Next week, Boeing will be arraigned in Federal Court on criminal charges. The charges stem from the deadly crashes of two 737 max planes a few years ago.

SEATTLE — The families of the victims of two Boeing 737 Max airplane crashes are eager to see justice for their loved ones. 

They are now one step closer following the announcement that Boeing will be arraigned in federal court on criminal charges on Jan. 26 related to the airplane wrecks. 

"When you've been let down so many times and you've been fighting for so long to get justice for our loved ones, you just think that nothing is going to happen," said Brittney Riffle. 

It's been almost four years. 

"I'm stuck in grief, I miss my husband and brother-in-law every single day," said Riffle whose husband, Melvin Riffle, and brother-in-law, Bennett Riffle, were killed in the 2019 Ethiopia max crash that left 157 people dead.

"I have messages to him that I was just like where are you, are you okay, what happened? Then I found out the next morning," said Riffle.

She was seven months pregnant when she found out. A spitting image of Melvin, Emma Riffle is now 3 years old.

"She knows all about daddy being up in heaven, she has a daddy blanket, she talks about her daddy all the time, we visit them all the time," said Riffle.

Brittney and Emma Riffle are traveling to Texas next week for Boeing's arraignment.

"They basically got a slap on the wrist, a fine and immunity against criminal liability for what they've done," said Brittney Riffle.

In 2021 Boeing paid $2.5 billion dollars to settle the investigation in exchange for the criminal charge of conspiracy to be dropped. 

"It's been unprecedented so far and this feels like another unprecedented step," said former longtime KING 5 Aviation Reporter Glenn Farley who extensively covered the initial max crashes in Indonesia and then Ethiopia, killing a total of 346 passengers.

"The result was that the max was grounded for the better part of two years which was unprecedented in the modern era and now we're looking at criminal charges which may or may not be warranted, but we're in new territory here and it's going to be really interesting to see how this plays out," said Farley.

Next Thursday, a representative for Boeing will appear in court and for the first time families of the victims will be able to make impact statements.

"After he hears from the families, he will have a better understanding of their view and whether the motion to lift the immunity that Boeing was given should stand or be modified," said attorney Robert Clifford, who is the lead counsel representing victims' families from Ethiopia flight 302. 

With potential criminal charges against a major corporation, the question is who would be held accountable? 

"You can't put handcuffs on a company, but you can put handcuffs on a senior executive," said Clifford.

With her daughter by her side, Brittney Riffle and many other families will have the opportunity to address Boeing and a Federal Judge.

"Thank God I was pregnant, thank god I have a piece of Melvin with me," Riffle said.

"It's not going to go away, what's done is done. They killed my husband, they killed my brother-in-law. They killed so many people and ruined so many lives," Riffle continued.

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