Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dark Days

I've been watching CNN for updates on the plane crash in Buffalo, NY. I have such compassion for the families of the victims.

My dad died in a plane crash 15 years ago. I know what they are feeling. When I hear of a plane crash, my heart skips a beat, and I just feel such sadness.

My dad was a pilot. He flew an air ambulance in Wyoming. The night he died, he wasn't even on call to fly, but he took the call anyway and went. He was flying home from a small town in Wyoming with a critical heart patient, a paramedic and a flight nurse. He was 3 minutes from the airport. The air traffic controllers lost them on radar. There was no mayday call or signs of problems. They were just gone. The weather had suddenly turned bad. It was April 6, and there was a sudden snow storm. It caught them all off guard. My dad had flown in that type of weather so many times, he was very skilled. He was a flight instructor so he knew how to get around it. The airport was unable to send search parties out to see if they could see the plane anywhere, because the weather was so bad. They needed to wait until the weather cleared.

We waited almost 8 hours-all day long, to hear news. All we knew was their plane had been lost on radar. It was the worst 8 hours of my life. Waiting, wondering, praying.....I pictured my dad sitting in the middle of no-where waiting for search parties to come and get him. I figured he just landed the plane because of the bad weather...I was in denial. My mom and sister knew he was dead, they just felt it. I didn't.

8 hours later, a helicopter was sent out and in a short time we heard the news. They found the plane. It had crashed into the side of a mountain. All were dead. I was devastated and shocked. I ran to the bathroom and threw up. It was the worst time of my life.

My dad died 5 months before my wedding. My fiance and I flew back to Wyoming for the funeral and to be with my sister and mom. One of the hardest things I've had to do was board a plane right after my dad died in the crash. I was so scared and felt a sense of panic. I cried the whole way home.

During the week we were home for my dad's funeral, we had the opportunity to board a helicopter and go to the crash site. By this time the NTSB had removed the plane. We just HAD to go....we needed to go there and see where he crashed. I can't explain it. We landed and saw a charred mountain ridge. It was very hard. We were all in shock so things didn't really register...we were walking zombies really. The heavy snow that was on the ground the day he died, had all melted now. We walked all around, each of us on our own. We each tried to deal with this tragedy. As I walked in one area, I looked down and saw something glimmer in the sun. I stooped down to see what it was, and it was a watch. It was my dad's watch. This was a MIRACLE and God's personal blessing to me. It was in great condition other than a broken clasp. My dad was wearing it at the time of the crash. I have no idea how it ended up where I found it, and in such great shape. It was a miracle I just happened to look down and it glistened in the sunlight to catch my eye. I treasure it. I carried it on my wedding day. It is one of my dearest and personal possessions. It helped me to cope and it made me feel like my dad was with me on my wedding day.

The NTSB investigated the crash and a year or so later we found out that the de-icers were not working properly on the plane.

It has been 15 years since this day. I still remember every minute of it. I remember every emotion. I have such sympathy for the families of the plane crash victims from this week. I've been praying for them. Dark days turn to happy days again. It just takes time and God's healing touch.


His Doorkeeper said...

What an awesome story about your Dad. I would treasure that watch forever!

Your kids are sooooo cute! What a nice Valentine's party you had! Bet you all had a great time!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Amy said...

I am so glad you were able to find his watch. What a wonderful keepsake.

Renee said...

WOW! We never got to this during our walks! and we talked ALOT;) Such compassion of our God during such a HORRIBLE time Kel!

Love you!!!

We need more walks!

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