Column: Ashes to awards six months after deadly Santee plane crash

At 12:15 p.m. Last October 11 in Santee, Amanda Nelson had just returned home from the gym. County Juvenile Officer Michael Keeley was on call with a client’s parent. Legal secretary Allison Ria was working on her home computer, and Navy nurse David Antico was washing dishes by the kitchen window.

Suddenly their lives, and those of their neighbors, were shaken by the horrible moaning sound of an airplane falling vertically and after an explosion that shook their homes like an explosive bomb.

A Cessna C340 piloted by Dr. Sugata Das, a cardiologist working in Yuma, Ariz., Crashed on Greencastle and Jeremy Streets heading toward Montgomery Field. Investigators found that the plane first hit a UPS truck, cutting it in half, then hit a car parked on the curb, a truck and a boat on a road to its right and plowed into two houses, causing a huge explosion that caused a fire ball and a plume of black acid smoke in the air.

Keeley, Rea, Nelson and her husband, all neighbors on the adjacent Grand Fork Drive, immediately ran barefoot from their homes to the smoke that was pouring in to help. No one stopped wearing shoes. Antico came with them from his home on Cleary Street.

A house was destroyed and the next house was half-destroyed and on fire. They ran to a window and spied on a woman inside. Maria Morris, 70, was yelling at her dog, Roxy, but neighbors persuaded her to come to the window where they helped her climb.

“It’s important to go out now,” Kylie told her. Then they could see how to get her dog.

Her hair, arms, neck and pants were sung. They later learned that her husband, 75-year-old Phil, had gone to the back of the house on a futile search for the dog. The flames prevented his return and so he went out the back door.

Nearby resident Shawn Purvis heard screams from the backyard. He and another man tore down a fence and carried Phil, who was badly burned, to the road. Roxy, they later learned, could not get out of hell.

After rescuing Maria, Rhea ran from house to house knocking on doors and making people come out.

Nelson, Keeley, Rea, Antico and Purvis will be recognized as heroes for their quick action at the Burn Institute’s annual Spirit of Courage Awards at Bahia Resort in Mission Beach on May 5. Other heroic citizens will also be honored for shooting victims outside fires and garages, burned vehicles and a crashed motorcycle in flames.

Those at the Santee disaster site will tell you that there were many more neighborhood heroes that day, some of whom remain anonymous and others who declined to be identified.

“I’m glad I was home and I was able to help as much as I could,” said Nelson, who recorded the chaos on her cell phone. He could not sleep for a few nights afterwards and had doubts about getting on a plane for a scheduled flight to Utah a few days later. “When I hear planes flying over the house now, I stop.”

For days after the accident, she and her husband Donnie, who also helped that day, Keeley and Rea talked and texted each other to deal with memories, nightmares and stress. Despite the fact that everyone was barefoot in the place full of broken windows and debris, no one was injured.

On stage, Keeley called Jim Slaff, Maria and Phil Morris’s son, who were sitting on the couch watching TV when Cessna entered their home. Slough, who lives near San Diego State University, arrived at the crash site minutes later.

His mother had third-degree burns on more than 10 percent of her body, and his stepfather, who had used his hands to extinguish the flames in his wife’s hair, suffered burns on more than 30 percent of her body. of. Slaff’s mother was treated and released within a few months, but Phil’s injuries kept him in hospital until early last month.

Now they live with Slough. “Their lives have been uprooted,” he says. “Everything they worked for is gone and their pet is gone. “… They are lucky to be alive and grateful for that, but the future is full of uncertainty.”

Nevertheless, they are optimistic and work with an architect on plans to rebuild their home, where Phil lived for 30 years, around the stone fireplace that remains.

Fortunately, the couple who owned the house destroyed next door, Cody and Courtney Campbell, were not home at the time of the crash. They had just completed a home renovation about a day earlier, neighbors said.

The city of Santee has offered to waive license fees and hasty approvals and their home is already being rebuilt.

Work has not yet begun on the charred rubble of Morris’s house, which is guarded by a chain link fence.

Nelson spotted a family of three the other day pulling weeds that had grown around the fence – another example of neighbors helping anonymous neighbors.

Despite the awards, residents do not feel like heroes. Even though they ran to hell without even taking the time to wear shoes, they downplay any praise.

They did what the neighbors do, they say.

Antico is very shy about the honor of the Burn Institute: “I am humble and grateful. I’m not into this for recognition. “I was just helping a neighbor.”

“It’s a little embarrassing,” says Rea. “I’m not used to all the attention, but it sends a positive message to others not to be afraid and to do something positive to try to help someone.”

For Keeley, the accident was an improvised test. Last September, five men living in a group transitional home stopped their car to save a couple in their 90s from a burning car on I-8 in Lakeside, ignoring fears that an explosive gas tank could be damaged.

“I wondered if I would do that,” he said. Now he knows the answer: He did. “It gave me a huge sense of relief to check my list that, if I tried, I would answer and help someone.”

Other Spirit of Courage honorees who survived the fire to help the victims include businessman Marc Burnett, Ligregory Crawford and Fadi Moasa, Marty Martinez, police officer Ross Gallagher and off-duty Baroness firefighter Nicholas Bohr.

There is a very worthy hero who will not be recognized on May 5, Nelson notes. This is Steve Krueger, the beloved 30-year-old UPS distribution worker who was killed when the plane cremated his mail truck.

“He definitely saved Phil and Maria,” he says. Nelson believes that, based on the angle of impact with his UPS truck, the plane tilted slightly to the right, so it crashed on the right side of Morris’s house and not on the front door.

“He and his truck saved the lives of two people,” he says.

Column: Ashes to awards six months after deadly Santee plane crash Source link Column: Ashes to awards six months after deadly Santee plane crash

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