Crash of Flight 5191

Clarence Wayne Fortney II: ‘A little part of him remains behind’

There was a letter marked “Special Delivery” addressed to Clarence Wayne Fortney II -- residence: Heaven. In it, Wayne Fortney promised his fallen son C.W. that “Every morning at 6:07 a.m. ... ‘I’ll be talking to you.’”

There was a stuffed lamb, initially a gift from husband to wife, and now a lasting bond between a 16-month-old baby and the father he won’t ever truly know.

There were 49 flickering white candles and 49 seconds of silence to honor Fortney and the other 48 passengers and crew who perished when Comair Flight 5191 crashed at Blue Grass Airport.

These symbols tore at the 300 mourners who gathered yesterday at Stanton Christian Church’s Family Life Center to hear eulogies for Fortney, 34, an off-duty pilot who was a passenger on Flight 5191. He had been headed for work later in the day at AirTran Airlines.

Each person at the funeral clipped on a pair of pilot wings.

Sara Combs, chief judge of the state court of appeals and a longtime family friend, showed the audience “Mr. Lamb,” a tiny stuffed animal whose once-white fur is now gray in parts and whose ears are almost always wet from a toddler’s chewing.

Combs told a story in the words of Fortney’s widow, Sarah King Fortney: C.W., a Lexington resident who grew up in Powell County, found the lamb in an airport gift shop about three years ago. It was the kind of spur-of-the-moment purchase a man sometimes makes for his wife for no other reason than to remind her that she’s never too far from his mind.

Now everywhere that their toddler son, Calvin James, goes, “he takes Mr. Lamb and in doing so, he carries around a reminder that no matter that C.W. has gone beyond the sky, a little part of him remains behind,” Combs said. “And every time Sarah looks at her beautiful son, she too, will know that a big part of C.W. also remains.”


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