LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Tuesday marks 13 years since Flight 5191 crashed on takeoff from Blue Grass Airport killing nearly everyone aboard.
One person survived, while 49 people died that day. A memorial at the University of Kentucky Arboretum has deep meaning for everyone who knew someone who died in the tragic crash.
Bound for Atlanta, Flight 5191 prepared for takeoff early in the morning 13 years ago.
But the airplane's first officer lined up the aircraft on the wrong runway. It was too short for the regional jet and it crashed into a field on takeoff.
Only the first officer, James Polehinke, survived.
John Fister remembers that day vividly as the day he lost his friend Pat Smith. Smith worked with Habitat for Humanity and was on his way to Gulf of Mexico to help people devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
"I had clients in town that were supposed to be on this flight," he said. "I had fallen asleep on the couch at night and I woke up in the morning and saw the headlines and I said, 'Oh my gosh, my clients are on that flight.' I rang their number to see what would happen and they had gotten bumped."
Each of the crash victims is memorialized on the Arboretum's sculpture as a bird.