After more than five and a half years of silence, the lone survivor of Comair flight 5191 is breaking his silence and speaking directly about the crash at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport that killed 49 people.
"If I am not doing something and I am not involved with an activity, my mind goes back to August 27, 2006,” said flight 5191 first officer Jim Polehinke.
While headed down the wrong runway, Polehinke and the flight’s captain noticed something strange. There were no lights and the runway ended before the plane could be airborne.
After awaking from a coma, Polehinke learned he was the flight’s only survivor and would never walk again while facing the reality that he was one of the pilots at the helm of flight 5191.
During their investigation, federal officials never talked to Polehinke whose doctor told the National Transportation Safety Board he was "medically unfit" to be interviewed.
Eleven months later, the NTSB determined the probably cause was the pilots’ “failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane’s location … and to cross-check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff.”
"Jim will be the first person to shoulder the responsibility for his part in it,” said Chicago filmmaker Ky Dickens who convinced Polehinke and his wife Ida to open their home and lives to the documentary. “Sole Survivor” which will be released in the fall documents the world’s 14 sole survivors of commuter plane crashes.
The documentary focuses main on Polehinke and George Lamson who was the sole survivor of a 1985 airline crash that killed 70 people as it left Reno, Nevada, for Minneapolis.
“George was a passenger who ended up being a sole survivor and Jim was obviously a pilot who ended up being a sole survivor,” said Dickens. “And I think we really can understand survivorship in a very comprehensive by looking at someone who was in control versus someone who just happened to survive."
Parts of that documentary and Polehinke’s first interview where he discusses the crash will air on WKYT at 6 p.m. Monday.