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Wednesday marks eighth anniversary of Comair flight 5191 crash

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Wednesday marks one of the saddest anniversaries in Kentucky history. On August 27, 2006, Comair flight 5191 crashed at the Blue Grass Airport killing 49 people after taking off from the wrong runway.

As with the crash's past two anniversaries, a public memorial or tribute isn't planned to mark the anniversary.

In 2011 on the crash's fifth anniversary, a public memorial honoring the crash victims was unveiled at The University of Kentucky Arboretum. "If a memorial can make you appreciate life, this is that memorial," says Matthew Snoddy, who lost his father in the crash.

Each bird soaring into the sky on the memorial represents a life lost in the crash. At the base of the monument, each victim's name is inscribed.

Most of the passengers onboard the Atlanta-bound flight were from central Kentucky. Ranging in age from 16 to 72 years old, the passengers included a University of Kentucky dean and a couple married the day before.

"There are a lot of why questions that are not answered and will probably never get answered," the first officer and sole survivor Jim Polehinke said in 2012 during his only interview about the crash.

"I have an article that The Kentucky Herald [The Herald-Leader] had published that shows faces of the people were on board. It gives profiles," said Polehinke told producer's of the documentary "Sole Survivor" which documented the world's 14 sole survivors of commuter plane crashes.

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 probable 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."

Those who died on Comair Flight 5191:
Rebecca Adams, Harrodsburg
Lyle Anderson, Ottawa, Ont.
Christina Anderson, Inglewood, Ont.
Arnold Andrews, Tampa, Fla.
Anne Marie Bailey, Vancouver, B.C.
Bobbie and Jesse Benton, Stanford
Carole Bizzack, Lexington
George Brunacini, Georgetown
Brian Byrd, Richmond
Jeffrey Clay, Burlington
Homer and Diane Combs, Lexington
Fenton Dawson, Lexington
Thomas Fahey, Leawood, Kan.
Mike Finley, London
Clarence Wayne Fortney II, Lexington
Wade Bartley Frederick, Danville
Hollie Gilbert, Somerset
Erik Harris, Lexington
Kelly Heyer, Cincinnati area
Jonathan and Scarlett Parsley Hooker, London
Priscilla Johnson, Lexington
Tetsuya and Nahoko Kono, Lexington
Charles Lykins, Naples, Fla.
Dan Mallory, Bourbon County
Steve McElravy, Hagerstown, Md.
Lynda McKee, Richmond
Bobby Meaux, Harrodsburg
Leslie and Kaye Morris, Lexington
Cecile Moscoe, Richmond
Judy Ann Rains, Richmond
Michael Ryan, Lexington
Mary Jane Silas, Columbus, Miss.
Pat Smith, Lexington
Rebecca Adams, Harrodsburg
Tim Snoddy, Lexington
Marcie Thomason, Washington, D.C.
Greg Threet, Lexington
Randy Towles, Watertown, N.Y.
Larry Turner, Lexington
Victoria Washington, Richmond
Jeff Williams, Lexington
Paige Winters, Leawood, Kan.
Bryan Woodward, Lafayette, La.
JoAnn Wright, Cincinnati


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