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Richmond ready to memorialize victims

RICHMOND — Forty-nine doves, one for each person who died in the 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191, are carved on a granite fountain just inside the gates of the Lake Reba Recreational Complex.

The fountain is the focal point of a memorial dedicated to the six Madison County residents who died in the crash.

That memorial, which was created by Brian Huybers as an Eagle Scout project, will be dedicated Sunday, just days before the second anniversary of the crash.

Comair Flight 5191 crashed Aug. 27, 2006, while attempting to take off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport. Forty-nine of the 50 people on board were killed.

The memorial turned out better than he originally envisioned, said Huybers, 16, a senior at Madison Central High School. ”I didn't know it was going to get this big.“

Huybers' memorial won't be the only permanent 5191 memorial in the area. The Flight 5191 Memorial Commission has been working on a memorial in Lexington for about a year. The commission has not selected a location, but it is about to issue a request for proposal for an artist to come up with a design.

Huybers' memorial ”means more to me than the other one (being developed in Lexington) just because he didn't have to do it,“ said Susie Massingill, sister of Judy Rains, who died in the crash. ”It's not something expected of him. He's done it solely out of the kindness of his heart.“

Huybers began working on the memorial last fall. He was searching for an Eagle Scout project when Whitney Dunlap, the assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 401, told him that Richmond Mayor Connie Lawson wanted a local memorial for the Madison County residents who died in the crash.

The Madison victims were Carole Bizzack, Brian Byrd, Lynda McKee, Cecile Moscoe, Victoria Washington and Rains.

Lawson said she wanted to honor those on Flight 5191 in the same way the city honored the 10 Richmond residents who died in a 1972 charter plane crash in Todd County. That memorial is at Irvine McDowell Park.

Huybers took on the 5191 memorial because it was the perfect Eagle Scout project, he said. ”I felt that the community needed it because we lost a lot of victims to that tragedy, so it was pretty much mandatory that there had to be a memorial for them.“

He spent nearly a year on the project, developing a concept, fund-raising to pay for the memorial and working with fountaineer Russell Sitter, who helped create ”The Water Wall“ at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza in Lexington. Sitter provided Huybers with technical assistance and the design work.

Huybers' first concept was to have two circles with a fountain located where the two circles meet.

The design evolved into one circle with a fountain in the middle, flanked by benches. With a walkway leading to the fountain and benches, the memorial looks like a Celtic cross.

Around the base of the fountain will be seven granite plaques. Six of them will be inscribed with the name and age of each person who died. A seventh plaque will tell the story of Comair Flight 5191.

Each family is being given the opportunity to have an inscription of its choosing added to the plaque commemorating its loved one.

The engravings won't be completed in time for Sunday's dedication, Huybers said.

As the memorial's design developed, Huybers was adamant about having some kind of water feature, whether it was a fountain or a small reflecting pool.

”I thought that (a water feature) would be the best thing to kind of bring serenity to the memorial,“ he said.

The entire project — fountain, benches and landscaping — cost about $27,000.

Huybers raised $6,200 in cash and in-kind donations. The city of Richmond covered the rest of the cost.

Massingill, the sister of Rains, said Huybers' memorial perfectly captures her sister. Rains died with her fiancé, Byrd. They had been flying to St. Lucia for a beach wedding.

Rains loved doves, Massingill said. She had a tattoo of a dove and a dove figurine hanging on the rearview mirror of her car. Also, Rains spent a lot of time at Lake Reba.

”She would really love it; it's perfect for her,“ Massingill said.