LEXINGTON, Ky. – A commuter jet taking off for Atlanta crashed just past the runway and burst into flames, killing 49 people before dawn Sunday and leaving the lone survivor in critical condition.
Comair Flight 5191, a CRJ-200 regional jet, crashed at 6:07 a.m., said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the
Federal Aviation Administration.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the plane to crash in a field just beyond Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport. The plane was largely intact, and authorities said rescuers were able to get one crew members out alive, but the county coroner described a devastating fire following the impact.
“They were taking off, so I’m sure they had a lot of fuel on board,” Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said. “Most of the injuries are going to be due to fire-related deaths.”
“We are going to say a mass prayer before we begin the work of removing the bodies,” he said.
The crash was the country’s worst domestic airplane accident in nearly six years.
Lexington police spokesman Sean Lawson said investigators were looking into whether the plane had taken off from the wrong runway and discovered too late that they didn’t have the length they expected. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency had no indication that terrorism was involved in any way.
Both flight recorders, which should help investigators determine what went wrong were found, Ginn said.
Update: This is just heartbreaking. Former UK baseball player Jon Hooker and his new wife, who were just married yesterday (Saturday), were on board heading to their honeymoon.
Townhall has more.
“Someone didn’t have their brain attached,” Czysz said.
Pilots should have noticed the difference between the two runways, the blue taxi lights and the lit runway markers, he said.
Controllers in the tower should have also noticed what runway the pilots were on when they asked for permission to take off, Czysz said.
John Goglia, former NTSB board member, said there could be an explanation for how the crash happened.
“They’re taxiing out from the terminal, no one’s in front of them, so they’re going quickly,” Goglia said. “One pilot’s got his head down,” he said, entering data into the flight data computer.
Goglia said he understood the shorter runway was lit in some way, though the FAA’s formal notice to pilots said there were supposed to be no lights on the runway.
“He’s looking for runway lights, he sees them, he’s given clearance,” Goglia said. “There’s one guy in the tower and he’s moved on to other duties.”