Sole Survivor Has No Memory of Crash - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/26/06

Sole Survivor Has No Memory of Crash

Investigators study the runway at Blue Grass Airport on August 28, the day after a Comair jet crashed just after takeoff. Investigators study the runway at Blue Grass Airport on August 28, the day after a Comair jet crashed just after takeoff.

LEXINGTON, Kentucky (AP) -- Doctors have amputated the left leg of a co-pilot whose plane crashed on takeoff after turning onto the wrong runway, and he does not remember the accident that killed 49 people, his family said Monday.

James Polehinke, the lone survivor of the August 27 crash at the Blue Grass Airport, faces several additional surgeries to repair fractures, one involving his spinal cord, the family said.

Polehinke "does not remember anything," the family said in a statement. He is asking about his family and dogs and wants to go home.

"He is more wakeful at times and more communicative, but is still not completely lucid and currently has no recollection of the accident," the statement said.

Polehinke remains in serious condition at University of Kentucky Hospital.

The family said he should be able to begin rehabilitation after the surgeries, but he is not expected to be released for several weeks, university spokesman Jay Blanton said.

A police officer pulled Polehinke from the charred wreckage of Comair Flight 5191 after the plane struggled to get airborne and crashed into a field.

According to federal investigators, the flight's captain, Jeffrey Clay, taxied the jet onto the wrong runway, which was too short, before Polehinke took the controls for takeoff.

The sole air traffic controller on duty had cleared the plane to take off from the longer runway, then turned away to perform other duties and did not see the crash.

Also Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board said toxicology testing on both pilots detected no traces of alcohol or illegal drugs.

A low level of an over-the-counter decongestant was detected in Polehinke's blood, it said. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the substance was not on the agency's banned list. (Full story)

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