Ten-year anniversary of crash of Comair Flight 5191 brings flood - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ten-year anniversary of crash of Comair Flight 5191 brings flood of emotions for those affected

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Saturday marks 10 years since Comair Flight 5191 crashed while trying to take off in Lexington -- and the emotions of that day still linger for those who saw the worst.

It happened on Aug. 27, 2006. Bryan Jared had been a police officer in Lexington for six years.

"I remember by the time 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning rolled around, there were several of us trying to catch up on reports," Jared said. "I finished up with my stuff and began to just randomly take a drive. "

But nothing had prepared him for what was about to happen that August morning.

"I looked over to my left, across a farm field...and I could see a faint orange glow that was two or three hillsides over," he recalled.

"Once I made my way over the second hillside, it became evident that that was going to be the Comair plane that was down," he said.

Comair Flight 5191 crashed that morning at 6:07 a.m. near Bluegrass Airport. Jared was the first person at the crash scene.

"The heat from the airplane welted all of the vegetation down, and once I broke out into that...it took my breath away, he said.

"A lot of things were going through my head," he added. "I was scared. I was nervous."

He says he called out to anyone who could hear him who might need help.

"I just started walking towards the crash, and started working my way through it, seeing if I could find that one person who maybe I had the ability to help," he said.

Fifty people were on the flight. All but one died.

"Feeling the heat, the sounds, the noises and some of the things that were visible -- it was devastating at that point," Jared said.

The lone survivor was James Polehinke, the first officer of the flight crew. 

A federal investigation later revealed that the plane taxied onto the wrong runway -- a runway too short for a plane that size to take off.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation said the crash was likely caused by pilot error.

Matthew Snoddy's dad, John, was on the flight that morning.

"Some days I wish I could forget it," Snoddy said. "The day of the crash, just seemed like a normal day, in most ways. We were just sitting around the house with the kids."

Then he got a phone call.

"'Matt, your dad was on the plane' and I said, 'what plane?'" Snoddy said. "I had no idea."

"First thing is always disbelief," he added. "There's no way dad was on that flight."

John Snoddy was 51 years old the day of the crash.

"Dad was a great guy," Snoddy said. "Dad was someone who ... was a grandfather. I had three children at the time. I've got four now. He loved being a dad ... loved being a granddad." 

Ten years have now gone by since then. Those 49 victims are honored with a sculpture in Lexington.

For both Jared and Snoddy, what happened that day has stayed with them -- but in very different ways. 

"It depends on the day, but it's always there," Jared said. "I didn't know how to explain my thoughts and emotions when it came to the crash. I'm getting better with working through my emotions with it. As the years go on, it obviously gets a little easier."

"The hardest thing for me now is realizing that I have four kids that don't have a grandfather," Snoddy said. "I really think he would have really loved to get to see them grow up. If I could just have him back for just a day, I would want him to spend it with his grandkids." 

And while the decade that's passed has helped, the memories, the emotions and the pain may never fully go away.

"That was our people in that crash," Jared said. "I think it will always be there. It will always be there."

"Time does heal wounds, but you never forget," Snoddy said.

An anniversary memorial is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the University of Kentucky Arboretum. The public is welcome to attend.

Copyright 2016 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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