Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Back From The Crash Site

It’s been 2 hours since we left the crash site and our entire family is emotionally drained. My whole family and I spent an hour at the site with the other victims’ families.

The site looked surreal – like a movie set. There’s all this beautiful land around it and right through the middle of the area the ground is scorched. If you’ve viewed any recent pictures l you have seen everything that’s left. There’s nothing else. The only pieces of plane we saw were a wing, one piece of landing gear, part of the cockpit and the engines. That is all that’s left.

I spent most of my time looking at the cockpit where Kelly would have been. If you look at a picture you’ll see a “U” shaped hole between the last cockpit window and the door on the plane (that is the service door). If you drew a line from the “U” straight across the plane to the other side it would go right through the spot that Kelly was sitting.

We couldn’t walk directly up to the plane. Everything was taped off because the area is still under investigation. We could walk partway up the hill and see the trees that the plane initially clipped. Fire broke out immediately as is evident by the scorched earth. Maybe a hundred yards past that is the site of the impact and you can see how the plane just continued to slide up another hill to it’s final resting place – maybe 200 yards past the impact site.

There were NTSB investigators out there to answer any questions we had. Also in attendance were members of the American Red Cross and Chaplains to speak with anyone that wanted counseling.

There had to have been almost 100 police/sheriff/state patrol cars parked near the site. We were escorted by about a dozen squad cars along with 8 motorcycle patrolmen. Everybody – the motorcycle patrolmen, horse patrol, NTSB, Red Cross and others – were standing at attention as we drove up to the site in 5 buses. And while we were out of the buses at the site a police helicopter flew around the perimeter to keep the media from flying any closer.

The hardest part for me was when we had to board the buses to go back to the hotel. I didn’t want to leave. I know Kelly wasn’t there but I felt so close to him. And, like I said, I wanted to see a sign that he was there.

As we left there were about 20 people pulled over on the side of the road holding up big white signs that said things like “WE LOVE YOU” and “WE”RE PRAYING FOR YOU.” Total strangers, but to us they felt like close friends. It was tough to see.

Thank you for your prayers. We all know it made us stronger today.

-Gilmore

Monday, August 28, 2006

Blog from Lexington

It’s Monday at 4:30 PM (ET) and I’m in my hotel room. Next to me are four different newspapers and I have CNN on the TV. What you didn’t see yesterday was that all four networks stayed on local coverage all day. The only interruption was the evening television. And since we’re on Eastern time we have news at 11 PM. I stayed up and watched everything I could.

I’m learning that I can’t believe everything the news media says. That’s not to say that they’re lying. In this case they’re taking small pieces of information and trying to come to a conclusion as quickly as possible. Why? I believe it’s human nature. We all want to know what happened. What went wrong. We all want the answers.

I’m also learning how quickly stories die in the press. Everything on TV is about the JonBonet Ramsey case. I’m not seeing anything about Comair Flight 5191 anymore.

The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) is investigating the crash. They are a stand-alone agency so they will be unbiased in the investigation. We have been warned by them to not believe everything the media reports because the NTSB will give us the information as soon as they can. In fact, they had meetings with the families before they even held today’s press conference. They have warned us that one piece of information doesn’t mean much until the whole puzzle is put together. My family and I have resigned ourselves to the idea that we will not really know what happened for at least a year…if not longer.

To be honest…that’s not really of much concern to us right now. All we want to do is get our brother and son home. Hopefully that will be done by the end of the week.

I’ve heard that we’re getting a lot of emails and phone calls. Thank you for that. I know the Froggy 99.9 staff is hurting as well. Kelly spent a lot of time with them over the past few years and they mourn his loss too.

I would also like to thank Kevin Wallevand from channel 6 for the nice piece he did last night.

I will be back on the air as soon as I can. I also hope to answer each of your emails. But if I don’t, please know that we appreciate your words…thoughts…and prayers.

-Gilmore


One more thing...the only survivor lost 39 pints of blood. If you want to do something to honor my brother's life please donate in our Labor Day Blood Drive.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Kelly James Heyer

My younger brother, Kelly James Heyer, died this morning on Delta flight 5191 as it was taking off from Lexington, KY. Kelly was 27.

I don’t know why I’m writing this blog. Maybe subconsciously I think it will be therapeutic. But since I consider you my family I thought I should tell you.

My brother was a lot like me. We both played trumpet in school. He was much better than me, though. I remember when I was a senior asking my Jr. High band instructor if he was better than me. My teacher replied, without hesitation, “Oh, God yes!”

We played trumpet together at church a lot at Christmas and Easter. That will always be one of my favorite memories with Kelly.

He was also involved in theatre, along with me. Again it was special to share the stage with him.

Kelly was a traveler. When he was in college he studied in France for a semester. For the first couple of weeks he was homesick but once he adjusted he really found a passion for traveling. He graduated with a degree in French and always wanted to go back. And occasionally he did once he started flying with Delta/ComAir. He saw much of Europe…sometimes on a quick weekend getaway.

I didn’t see him much once he started working full-time. He was always flying someplace. But he really loved his job. I was surprised to learn that he mostly flew on the small jets, like flight 5191. I asked him if it was tough being the only flight attendant on these flights. But he loved being able to work one-on-one with the passengers, making sure they were comfortable. He even got my mother to enjoy flying!

He was a wonderful brother and a terrific uncle to his nieces and nephews. Any time a jet would fly over our house my kids would ask if Uncle Kelly was up there.

The last time I saw Kelly was at this year’s WE Fest. He came with a friend and was our guest. I can tell you that the Froggy staff loved him as well. He always had a way of being the life of the party wherever he went.

I’m going to Lexington with my older brother and our parents. I’m not sure what’s going to happen when we get there or how long I’ll be gone. But I’ll keep Pete Moss posted on what’s happening and he’ll be able to share this information with you.

What I’m saying isn’t meant to entertain you. And I’m not asking for your sympathy. I just want you to know what’s happening in my life. I’ve shared my wedding with you. You’ve been there at the births of my three kids. It just feels right that I share this with you now.

Gilmore