Families Mark Five Years Since Flight 5191 Crash

This weekend is the five-year anniversary of the crash of Comair Flight 5191. Forty-nine people died when the plane took off from the wrong runway at Lexington's Blue Grass airport. Brenna Angel of member station WUKY spoke with three victims' relatives about how they continue to cope and what a new memorial means to them.

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This weekend is the five-year anniversary of a plane crash in Lexington, Kentucky. Forty-nine people died when Comair Flight 5191 took off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport. Brenna Angel of member station WUKY spoke with relatives of the victims to learn how they're coping with the loss of loved ones and what a newly-opened memorial means to them.

BRENNA ANGEL: Jason Bizzack and Sue Byrd represent just two of the 49 families whose lives forever changed that morning of August 27, 2006.

JASON BIZZACK: It really hit home this year, not that it didn't hit home every year, but this year it just kind of, it's that milestone. It's the we've made it this far, we've come this far.

SUE BYRD: It is still very difficult. I don't think it will ever go away or ever change. We still take one day at a time.

ANGEL: Pilot error was a main cause of the accident. They took off from a runway that was too short for the regional jet. The crash claimed the life of Sue's son, Brian.

BYRD: He was the clown of our family. He always made us laugh. I think we miss that a lot.

ANGEL: Jason was the first person in his family to hear about the crash. He lost his mother Carole.

BIZZACK: I never got angry at God. I got angry at the situation. I got angry at probably the irresponsibility that was probably taking place. But just like you and I both know, we could get in our car and have an accident happen and that's it.

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ANGEL: Yesterday, the Flight 5191 Memorial Commission unveiled a sculpture of 49 silver birds, flying upwards. Each family was given a small canister to place mementos, like a picture or a note, inside the birds. Sue says the memorial goes beyond honoring the lives of the victims.

BYRD: It's been my goal to be involved in something that when the community comes and they remember, they will remember all the good things that happened, not the bad things.

ANGEL: Jason had avoided previous public ceremonies for the crash, but joined his family for this one.

BIZZACK: I think it's a very soothing place to come and just bring some thoughts of her in my past and bring a smile to my face.

ANGEL: National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman attended the ceremony. She was the lead federal investigator five years ago, and says aviation is safer because of lessons learned from Comair Flight 5191. For NPR News, I'm Brenna Angel in Lexington, Kentucky.

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