Lexington Plane Crash

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Authorities say a Comair flight carrying 50 people crashed near Lexington's airport Sunday morning shortly after takeoff.

The airport director in Lexington, Kentucky, confirms that 49 people were killed in today's crash. The lone survivor of the crash has been identified as the Comair Flight's first officer, James Polehinke. He is listed in critical condition.

Two of the victims of today's Lexington plane crash are former U-K baseball player John Hooker and his wife. They were married Saturday night.

The Fayette County coroner says most of the victims of Sunday morning's Comair jet crash near the Blue Grass Airport were from Lexington. Gary Ginn told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he may know some of the victims himself.

Ginn said most of the deaths likely occurred because of fire rather than smoke inhalation or the impact of the plane. Ginn said he expects it will take up to three days to retrieve the bodies.

He said his staff has been calling in people with expertise in dental records, and that officials will need the help of victims dentists to identify them.

The airport's security chief, Scott Lanter, said some of the first firefighters on the scene brought the first officer out through the nose of the plane.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says Comair Flight 5191 crashed at 6:07 (eastern time) Sunday morning after taking off for Atlanta.

The regional jet had 47 passengers and three crew members aboard.

Comair CEO, Don Bornhorst, held a news conference in Lexinton Sunday afternoon and says, "The top priority at this time is to meet the needs of the family members of the passengers and crew members on board".

The National Transportation Safety Board says the evidence so far shows that the Comair jet that crashed on takeoff in Kentucky this morning took off from the wrong runway.

The smaller runway the plane was said to have possibly taken off from was 35-hundred foot, and the plane was supposed to have used a seven-thousand foot runway.

A spokeswoman for the agency told reporters Sunday evening that readings from the flight recorders and ground scars at the end of the runway flight show the jet took off on Runway 26.

That's the shorter runway at the Lexington airport. Authorities have said that runway is not long enough to handle fully loaded planes like the Comair flight.

Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn says both flight recorders have been found.

Investigators have a flight manifest and are contacting relatives of passengers.

Governor Ernie Flectcher says "This is one of the largest tragedies we've seen in Kentucky."

Relatives and friends of possible passengers are directed to call (800) 801-0088 or (859) 767-1500.

National Transportation Safety Board officials from Washington, DC are now in Lexington and will be on the scene for 4 to 10 days.

The investigation could take nearly 18 months before a final report comes out.

Comair is a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines based in the Cincinnati suburb of Erlanger, Kentucky.


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