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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 »

Jerry Depew Sr., 67, Nashville
  Husband of Phyllis Depew of Nashville

Millard Thompson, 90, Brown County
  Husband of Linda Lou (Scott) Thompson of Nineveh

Janice Mae (Rockwood) Burrier, 68, Brown County
  Member of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Nashville

  • August 1
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 1
    Live music at Out of the Ordinary
    7 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 1
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • August 1
    Friday at BCSP
    10 a.m., 1 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • August 1
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 2
    Live jazz at Out of the Ordinary
    7 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 2
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • August 2
    Live blues at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 5
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 5
    Van Buren Advisory Board and Fire Board
    6:30 p.m. Van Buren Fire Station, 6801 S. Hamilton Creek Road
  • August 5
    CRC offers orientation for diploma class
    1 p.m. CRC, 246 E. Main St., Nashville
  • August 5
    Chamber of Commerce
    8 a.m. Willow Manor, 72 Willow St.
  • August 5
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • August 5
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • August 5
    Tuesday at BCSP Nature Center
    10 a.m., 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • August 6
    Brown County Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • August 6
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • August 6
    Local Emergency Planning Committee
    9 a.m. Ambulance Base, 53 State Road 46 East
  • August 6
    BC SWCD
    6:30 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • August 6
    Concerned Citizens of Brown County
    6:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library
  • August 7
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 7
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • August 7
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 7
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artist Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 7
    Nashville Town Council
    6:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • August 7
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • August 7
    Thursday at BCSP Nature Center
    10 a.m., 2 p.m., 8 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • August 8
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 8
    Live music at Out of the Ordinary
    7 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 8
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • August 8
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 9
    'Gangway to Galilee' Bible Camp in Bean Blossom
    8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 5802 N. Old Settlers Road at 135 North
  • August 9
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 9
    Widowed group activities
    2:30 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 9
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • August 9
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • August 9
    Late night dancing at Out of the Ordinary
    9:30 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 9
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • August 9
    Artists reception at art guild
    5 to 8 p.m. B.C. Art Guild, 48 Van Buren St.
  • August 9
    Live band at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 11
    Beekeepers club
    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 11
    BC Animal Control Board
    7 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 12
    CSCD Roads, Security commissions
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive/ CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • August 12
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 12
    Widowed group euchre parties
    1 to 4 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 12
    Nashville Parking & Public Facilities
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • August 12
    B.C. 4-H Fair Board
    7 p.m. 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • August 13
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • August 13
    Concerned Citizens of Brown County
    6:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library
  • August 14
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • August 14
    Go Club at the library
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 15
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 15
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • August 15
    Live band at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 16
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 16
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • August 16
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 17
    Church hosts 50-year anniversary for Catholic sister
    noon to 3 p.m. St. Agnes Catholic Church, 1008 McLary Road
  • August 18
    Public library executive session
    5:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 19
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • August 21
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • August 21
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 22
    Live music at Out of the Ordinary
    7 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 22
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 22
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • August 22
    Dave Miller at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 23
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 23
    Late night dancing at Out of the Ordinary
    9:30 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 23
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • August 23
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 26
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • August 26
    Widowed group euchre party
    1 to 4 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 29
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 30
    Wagler Dairy hosts fifth annual ice cream social
    4:30 to 8 p.m. Wagler Dairy, 7085 Homestead Road
  • August 30
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 13
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • September 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road