Little Rock Plane Crash
Exceprts from "Passengers Screamed Before Crash" by Kelly Kissel, Associated Press
Before you read these little clips I have taken from the Associated Press Website I should tell you why they are here. Barrett Baber is my second cousin (his mother, Janine, is my first cousin and my mother's niece) and I was shocked to hear that he was on the plane that crashed in Little Rock. Thank God he is still alive. I wanted to show you his bravery by posting these words here. I am grateful he is still around to tell the story himself.
"I thought we were going to be OK. All we knew was that there was bad weather," Baber said. "The plane was going so fast, when we hit the ground, we went off the end of the runway."
The jarring collision with the tower broke open other cracks in the aircraft — some just wide enough to allow passengers to slip out. But it also knocked the emergency exit nearest Baber out of kilter so only one person at a time could escape.
“There was panic, craziness. There were flames. People were screaming, ‘God, please save us!’” said Baber, who slid his 6-foot-plus frame out the damaged door. Safety, however, offered new misery: He landed in soggy bottomland along an Arkansas River backwater where passengers were pelted with golfball-size hail.
Baber said he and a friend went back to the plane about five times to help others get away, including flight attendant Tammy Gardner and a man from Hawaii whose leg was cut to the bone. They had to stop when the smoke got too bad.
“If I had stayed, I wouldn't be here,” he said.
Interviewed at a nearby theater turned into a reunion site for survivors and their relatives and friends, Baber recalled leaving a message with a friend in case he didn't return from his trip to Germany with other members of the Ouachita Singers from Ouachita Baptist University at Arkadelphia.
“The day before I left — it was a stupid thing — I told a friend, ‘If anything happens to me, tell all my friends that I told you this, and tell them that I love them, and tell my parents that I love them,’” Baber said.
“I never thought about it and, think, this was the last flight of the trip.”