Mood is somber among Blue Grass Airport workers, passengers

HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITERAugust 28, 2006 

At noon yesterday, Darrell Patton left the terminal at Blue Grass Airport, glad to be headed back home to Leslie County. His 1:30 p.m. flight to Chicago was canceled after the early-morning crash of Comair Flight 5191 a few minutes after takeoff.

Patton found out about the crash while on the Mountain Parkway, headed to Lexington. "My wife called. Then the pastor of my church called to see if I was OK," Patton said. He was on his way to Green Bay, Wis., for a Monday morning business meeting.

The airline told Patton that it could put him on a flight out of Lexington early Monday morning. He declined. "I have anxiety about flying anyway," he said. "By the time I got to Lexington, I decided I wasn't going anyway." He said he would handle his business through a Web-based meeting.

Sunday is a fairly slow day for arrivals and departures at Blue Grass Airport, several passengers said. After the crash yesterday, it was eerily quiet, and passengers and employees alike were somber. Most television screens were dark. On the blue monitor showing arrivals and departures, Comair flight 5191, scheduled to depart at 6 a.m., was for a time still on the screen, listed as "Delayed."

For a short period, only ticketed passengers and family members were permitted into the terminal, airport spokeswoman Amy Caudill said.

"My heart goes out to everyone's family," said Brandi Villarreal, heading into the terminal. The University of Michigan student had been in Lexington over the weekend for a wedding. None of the wedding guests were on the fatal flight. But Villarreal was jittery: "I hope to get to Detroit safely."

Delana Roberts, heading to Madison, Wis., for a Monday orientation session for her new job at the TDS telephone company in Leslie County, admitted to a case of nerves. "Usually, I'm not nervous. I think it's because the crash just happened, and it happened here," Roberts said. "I feel so sad for the families."

Taxi driver Neville Moore, parked in front of the terminal, made two early-morning trips to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, taking passengers whose local flights had been canceled.

On his second trip to Cincinnati, the passengers were not told about the crash when they checked in at the airline counter. "They were told there was a problem with their flight and they'd have to leave from Cincinnati," Moore said.

"They were really irritated. But, after they heard what happened, that calmed them down immediately," he said. "They counted their blessings because they were just a flight away" from the one that crashed.

Taking a different view was Andrew Palmer, on his way to San Jose, Calif., for a pleasure trip. He said he was not worried about the safety of his flight. "It was an isolated event," Palmer said. "It wasn't terrorism. It wasn't a bomb. It seems to be a fluke. I'm OK with flying today."

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