Co-Pilot Barely Survived Crash Site Blast
"They had a passion for God that was expressed by their passion
Those words said Pastor John Grys, who serves as director of the
Advent House at the University of Tennessee, was the first of what
will be many eulogies in the wake of a deadly aviation accident
near Collegedale Thursday. Four of the dead were leaders of the
Seventh Day Adventist Church in Georgia. The fifth was their
The co-pilot, Jim Huff, was able to walk from the crash
site to a nearby home before he collapsed.
"I stayed with him until help arrived," said Connie Bumgardner,
at whose doorstep Huff collapsed. "He could barely say four people
and a pilot (were on the plane). You could just see the pain in his
face. I just told him to lie still and God would take care of him."
She was quoted by the Associated Press.
Huff was treated at an area hospital before being released on
The five who died were identified as:
- Dave Cress, 47, president of the Georgia-Cumberland Seventh Day
- James H. Frost, 53, vice president of administration
- Jamie Arnall, 29, director of communication
- Clay Farwell, 67, assistant to the president
- John Laswell, 36, pilot
Reverend David Graves, a Methodist minister, said he was working
in his yard at about 1315 local, when he heard the sound of an
airplane in trouble overhead.
"It couldn't have been more than 150 feet up," he said. "It was
low. It just shocked me. It banked to the left at about a 20-degree
angle and just fell out of the sky like a brick."
That's when he spotted Huff, bruised and bleeding, stagger away
from the wreckage. "He was probably 150 yards from the plane and it
blew. Man it blew ... flames shot up," Graves told the AP.
Initial reports from Collegedale Thursday and Friday indicated
one of the Cessna 421's engines may have failed. There was no
official confirmation of that.
The pilot, Laswell, was well-respected in the aviation
community. "If I was going to be in a small plane, I would want him
to be the pilot," Randy Hirsch, 35, of Knoxville, told the
Knoxville News. "Flying was his passion.... He'd told me before
about being in situations when the engine failed and he safely
landed the plane," Hirsch said. "I know he would have done
everything he could to land that plane safely."
Huff, a CFI, had volunteered for the flight from Collegedale to
Knoxville. The accident is now under investigation.
FAA Preliminary Accident Report
Make/Model: C421 Description: 421,
Golden Eagle, Executive Commuter
Date: 12/02/2004 Time: 1825
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury:
Fatal Mid Air: N Missing:
State: TN Country: US
ACFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES. 6 POB, 5 SUFFERED
AND ONE IS UNKNOWN. ACFT SUSTAINED SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE. ALL
CIRCUMSTANCES ARE CURRENTLY UNKNOWN. COLLEGEDALE, TN
INJURY DATA Total
# Crew: 1 Fat:
# Pass: 5 Fat:
Fat: 0 Ser:
Activity: Unknown Phase:
Unknown Operation: General
Dep Date: Dep.
Flt Plan: UNK
Wx Briefing: U
Last Radio Cont: UNKN
Last Clearance: UNKN
FAA FSDO: NASHVILLE, TN
Entry date: 12/03/2004