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Local plane crash survivors: 'God was good'
Updated on: 04.11.12

The last thing Seth Rainwater remembers before stepping out of the sheared-off plane was a blur of trees, coming at him at about 45 miles per hour.

“And they were big trees,” he said Wednesday from his hospital bed near Tupelo, Miss., “so I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I was just like, ‘Well, Lord, take care of me.’ And I blacked out for about three minutes.”

When he came to, he and pilot Gary Huett of Cordry Lake were crawling out of what was left of the plane, in the yard of Bobby and Cindy Nelson’s home in Iuka, Miss.

“Here was this guy, we were right in his yard,”  Huett said. “He showed up three minutes before. He’d just got home. … He said he was calling 911.”

Emergency responders found Rainwater, 33, of Morgantown, sitting on a bench, a little disoriented from a blow to his head, which damaged his sinus cavity.

But Huett, 61, walked away from the crash Tuesday afternoon with nothing but a sore side and shoulder, from hanging sideways in his seat belt in the battered, wingless plane.

“God was good,” Rainwater said. “I’ll just say that.”

Tishomingo County Sheriff Glenn Whitlock told the Associated Press that the men were flying from New Orleans back to Indiana when they had to make the emergency landing at about 5:30 p.m. near Mississippi Highway 25. That’s about 5 miles west of the Alabama and 20 miles south of the Tennessee state lines.

Huett, a forensic animator for court cases, and Rainwater, owner of Carpe Diem photography/videography, were traveling on business, Huett said.

Huett had rented the plane, owned by Siherb Aviation Corp. in Franklin, from Franklin Flying Field on Monday.

He said the fuel gauges for both tanks were faulty.

Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating the crash, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

“One tank sort of went dry and started sputtering, and we switched to the other, and headed for an airport,” Huett recounted from the hospital Wednesday. “And about three or four minutes later, the other tank went dry, and we were about 4 miles from the airport and we had to put it down in a field.

“And down here in Mississippi, it’s not like Indiana … where you have a lot of wide open fields. You got trees all over the place, so it was a very short field.”

He had to come in steep to miss a tall tree in his way and got the wheels on the ground, but the field ended before the plane stopped. “The field ended in a bunch of trees,” he said. “We hit the trees at probably 50, 60 miles per hour, tore the wings off, fuselage went through a bunch of trees probably, oh, 150 feet of trees, and then came to rest up about 50 feet from a house.”

Huett didn’t lose consciousness, he said. He watched the trees whiz by.

“I was surprised I didn’t even put my head down. I don’t know why. I just rode it out.”

He said he has flown for 18 years, and hadn’t come close to any landing like this.

“You just deal with it,” he said, about what was going through his head when he discovered they were out of fuel. “Called mayday and told them where I was, and looked for a field.”

He and Rainwater had just returned from the crash site Wednesday afternoon, where they retrieved Rainwater’s cell phone.

“God was really with us, to get through that,” Huett said, “because the way the fuselage … is, if it had hit head-on one of those trees, it would have been a much worse situation. But it didn’t.”

Rainwater’s wife, Jamie, and his older brother, Joe, drove down to Mississippi Tuesday night. After his CT scan results are received, he expects to start for home as early as Thursday afternoon — but this time in a car.

The experience hasn’t shaken Rainwater’s faith in flying, through, or in his pilot, who “did a wonderful job in a bad situation.”

“Absolutely,” Rainwater said, about his chances of getting back in a plane. “I mean, you can’t fall off your bike and not get back on, right?”

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat, with Joseph S. Pete, Daily Journal (Johnson County)

Obituaries
See Full List »

Dwayne E. Martin, 55, Nineveh
  Husband of Cathy J. (Wilson) Martin of Nineveh

Ralph E. Flora, 65, Trafalgar
  

Neva Poyner, 88, Jeffersonville
  Former resident of Morgantown

  • March 31
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • March 31
    Nashville Development Review Commission
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • March 31
    Representative's staff to conduct local office hours
    10 a.m. to noon County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • March 31
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 1
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 1
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees retreat
    10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
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    BC Emergency Management Advisory Council
    8 a.m. Ambulance Base, 53 State Road 46 East
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    Brown County SWCD
    6:30 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
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    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artist Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 2
    Go Club meeting Thursday
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  • April 2
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane
  • April 2
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 2
    BC Property Tax Assessment Board Of Appeals
    9 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • April 3
    Nashville/Brown County Government Offices CLOSED
  • April 3
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 4
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 4
    Carnival and egg hunt at Hamblen Township Fire Department
    9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Hamblen Township Volunteer Fire Department, 5612 Gatesville Road
  • April 4
    Egg hunt at grocery store
    11 a.m. Brown County IGA, 30 Hawthorne Dr.
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    Egg hunt at Deer Run Park
    1 p.m. Deer Run Park
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    Egg hunt at assisted living facility
    2 p.m. BC Health & Living Community, 55 E. Willow St.
  • April 5
    Church events slated for Easter Sunday
    .m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
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    Gnaw Bone Sewage District
    5:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
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    Metaphysical exploration group to host open meeting
    6 to 8 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 7
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 7
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 7
    Bean Blossom Sewer Board
    7:30 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 7
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • April 7
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • April 8
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 8
    CRC Steering Committee
    6:30 p.m. CRC, 246 E. Main St.
  • April 9
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 9
    Local Coordinating Council
    10 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Hall, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • April 9
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 9
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 9
    BC Convention & Visitors Commission
    8:30 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 10
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North.
  • April 10
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 11
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • April 11
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 12
    Mother’s Cupboard Soup Bowl benefit planned
    5 to 7 p.m. The Seasons Lodge, 560 State Road 46 East
  • April 16
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 16
    Local history and heritage presented at the library
    6:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 17
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 18
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • April 18
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • April 24
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 25
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 26
    County history center dedication slated
    2 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • April 26
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • May 16
    Historic site hosts outdoor art contest
    7 a.m. to 4 p.m. TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont