Local News

Community Dedicates Flight 5191 Memorial

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

Hundreds of people gathered at the University of Kentucky Arboretum this morning to remember the 49 lives lost when Comair Flight 5191 crashed at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington.

The five year anniversary ceremony included the dedication of a sculpture of 49 silver birds flying upward.

“If a memorial can make you appreciate life, this is that memorial. If a memorial can help you find peace, this is that memorial. If a memorial can be uplifting, this is that memorial,” said Matthew Snoddy, a member of the Flight 5191 Memorial Commission.

The victims’ names are etched in granite at the base of the sculpture. The piece was the work of artist Douwe Blumberg.

“Seeing this in person and to know it’s been done so tastefully, it really is just an incredible piece of artwork,” said Jason Bizzack, who lost his mom Carole in the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman attended today’s ceremony. She was the lead federal investigator five years ago, and says aviation is safer because of lessons learned from Comair Flight 5191.

A fundraising effort is still underway to establish a Flight 5191 Memorial maintenance fund.

Local News

Group Seeking Funds to Maintain Comair Flight 5191 Memorial

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

A memorial group organizing a tribute to the victims of Comair Flight 5191 is making sure a special sculpture will have a lasting place in Lexington.

In the wake of the August, 2006 plane crash that killed 49 people, hundreds of thousands of dollars poured in to help grieving families, and then to develop a memorial sculpture. That monument, a sculpture featuring 49 silver birds, will be unveiled on the upcoming anniversary.

Jennifer Smith-Combs, who lost her father Pat Smith in the crash, says she often walks in the Lexington Arboretum where the sculpture will be located.

“You know the community will remember, and will constantly remember us and remember our loved ones. It’s comforting I think, to know that it’s there,” she says.

To make sure the memorial is maintained, the Flight 5191 Memorial Commission is asking the public for donations to establish an upkeep fund. Chair Dr. Ray Garman says $150,000 dollars will cover the anticipated upkeep of the sculpture.

“We want to keep this as pristine when it’s new as it will be 50 years from now. And this is [an] endowment to keep our memorial the wonderful item I think it is now,” he says.

Local News

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules on Comair-Related Case

by Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The Kentucky Supreme Court has issued a ruling related to the death of an off-duty pilot killed in the Comair crash in Lexington four years ago. The man was one of 49 people killed in the crash.

On August 27, 2006, Airtran Airways pilot Clarence Fortney died in the crash of Comair Flight 5191, which crashed on takeoff at the Lexington airport.

Fortney lived in Lexington, but was commuting to his job in Atlanta. An administrative law judge ruled Fortney’s family ineligible for a workers compensation award because Fortney’s death was not work-related.

The Workers’ Compensation Board disagreed and reversed the decision, but the Court of Appeals reversed the board. In a 5-2 decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court is reversing the appeals court.

The high court says Fortney clearly was commuting to his job in Atlanta when he died and Airtran’s free or reduced fare arrangements with other airlines was an inducement for him to live somewhere besides Atlanta – in this case with his family in Lexington.

Local News

Memorial to Mark Two Years Since Deadly Plane Crash

The two-year anniversary of the plane crash that killed 49 people in Lexington is tomorrow. Hundreds of people are expected to remember the victims of Comair flight 5191 in a memorial service.

The plane crashed shortly after taking off from the wrong runway at Bluegrass Airport in Lexington. Mayor’s office spokesperson Marianne Blodgett says the tragedy affected the entire community.

“Those of us who lived here probably know someone who perished,” says Blodgett. “Also it gives the families an opportunity to come together and remember their loved ones in a public way and give an opportunity for them to show the community how much they appreciate the support they were given.”

Blodgett says music and reflection with be an integral part of the service, which will be held at the Mitchell Fine Arts Center at Transylvania University.