Flight 5191 first officer and sole survivor Jim Polehinke and his wife Ida
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The documentary "Sole Survivor" that heavily focuses on the crash of Comair flight 5191 will air on CNN in early 2014.
CNN Films announced Friday that it acquired the documentary that chronicles the lives of four lone survivors of commercial airline crashes.
"Sole Survivor" includes the first ever interview with Comair flight 5191 co-pilot Jim Polehinke who was at the helm of the plane that crashes at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport in 2006 killing 49 people.
Ahead of this weekend's world premiere at a film festival in Michigan, the documentary was screened in Lexington last week where viewers included everyone from NTSB officials to family members of the victims.
Some of the victims family members say Polehinke's words reopened their emotional wounds from that day, while others said they found closure in what Polehinke had to say.
"To see him, if he does remember everything, it would've been nice if he would have come forward earlier. The one positive thing is when he looked at the camera and said 'I'm sorry,' I felt like he was talking to me," said Marion Queen, whose father and stepmother died in the crash.
"It's good to know that the last person to see my father alive is still trying to do something good with his life," said Matthew Snoddy, whose father died in the crash.
The documentary has two main storylines: 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 director Ky 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."
In video from the film released to WKYT in May 2012, Polehinke is seen at his home in Colorado. Following the crash, Polehinke lost the use of both his legs. One of his legs was amputated.
"So being part of such a unique, small, perplexing group," said Dickens. "You can imagine that it helps a lot of heel if you can relate your experience to someone else's experience because that's just human nature."
While headed down the wrong runway, he and flight Captain Jeffrey Clay noticed something strange. There were no lights and the runway ended before the plane could be airborne.
After awaking from a coma, Polehinke learned the horrific news. He was the flight's only survivor and would never walk again while also facing the reality that he was one of the pilots at the helm of flight 5191.
Even during their investigation, federal officials never talked to Polehinke whose doctor told the National Transportation Safety Board at the time 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."
"There are a lot of why questions that are not answered and will probably never get answered," said Polehinke.