Flight 5191 investigator becomes NTSB chair

July 28, 2009 

Debbie Hersman, who became the public face of the National Transportation Safety Board in the wake of the 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191, was sworn in Tuesday as that agency's chairman.

Hersman, 39, led the team that investigated the crash of the commuter plane that crashed after taking off from the wrong Blue Grass Airport runway on a Sunday morning in August.

Forty-nine of the 50 people on board were killed.

She became well-known to the families of victims of the crash. Although she investigated a number of tragedies in other places, she said she developed an attachment to Lexington.

In some places, she said, the board's work in hindered by jurisdictional infighting and people who don't want to work together. That wasn't the case in Lexington.

She also praised the first responders, and the families of those who died.

"I saw a lot of grace come out of the tragedy," she said a year after the crash.

Hersman became a member of the NTSB in 2004. She was nominated to a two-year term as chairman by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate last Friday.

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