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Red Cross Responds to Commercial Jet Crash in Kentucky
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Katie Lawson
August 29, 2006

A commercial jet traveling from Lexington, Ky., to Atlanta crashed Sunday morning just a half mile from the end of a runway at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, killing 49 of the 50 passengers on board. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating of the crash to determine the precise cause.

Officials who reviewed cockpit recordings report that there were planning discussions for the Delta Airlines commuter flight, Comair Flight 5191, to take off from Runway 22. Instead, the jet used Runway 26, which is about half as long as Runway 22. According to the NTSB, this smaller runway is equipped with lights, but they were inoperable at the time of take off.

The lone survivor of the crash, co-pilot James Polehinke, was taken to a Lexington area hospital in critical condition.

The Bluegrass Area Red Cross Chapter responded to Sunday’s crash and sent nearly 40 workers and volunteers to the scene. Two Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) also were present at the crash site and approximately 400 meals were served to families and friends of crash victims as well as the nearly 200 emergency workers in the area.

Spiritual and mental health care and other services also were made available by the Red Cross to family members and friends of the crash victims. The Red Cross is working with local partner agencies such as the Kentucky Communications Crisis Board for disaster mental health services and the local YMCA to provide child care for the affected families.

Early planning has begun for a non-denominational memorial service and crash site visit for families. Most families and friends of the victims are local to the Lexington area and are beginning to return to their homes.

It is not yet known if the plane’s weight or engine troubles contributed to the crash. The NTSB is looking into the crash and said it is reviewing runway and taxiway markings as part of its ongoing investigation.

The Bluegrass Area Chapter will continue to provide services in the area as they are needed for friends and family members of crash victims.

The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighbors for 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of them fires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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