Crash Survivor

By: Melissa Reynolds
By: Melissa Reynolds

All the men were already pilots. They're best friends and take trips like this all the time. Only, this time, one man survived because he stayed behind.

"The place we were was absolutely gorgeous and I wanted to stay, unfortunately Mike had to go to work and Jon offered to take him back-when he did he said hey Andrew, stay on the ground and I'll be back," Andrew Rozier-Smolen says.

That's the last time Andrew saw his best friend.

"We all watched it. The flames were 25 feet high-there was nothing we could do," Rozier-Smolen says.

Andrew and Jon sang in an acapella group together...they met Mike in flight school.

"Mike was just a super guy himself totally enthusiastic about flying. Every time I saw him he was like lets go fly, lets go fly," Rozier-Smolen says.

Jon was the most experienced pilot of the group, he'd logged almost 600 hours.

"He's probably one of the finest students I've ever had he was just a natural he just picked it up I didn't even have to ask him to go study-he'd come in already studied and perhaps know more than I did," Christopher Russell says.

That's why Chris Russell doesn't think it was pilot error.

"I had flown with him, I knew him, he's not the type to make a careless mistake-he knew what he was doing," Russell says.

"There's just a wave of shock that runs through after-it hits home if it's someone you know. I'll remember his smile most of all he had the cutest little smile-his eyes would crinkle up," Dena Stickley says.

"I'm personally still in shock and I have memories now that are going to be with me for a long, long time and try to remember those last few hours I had with those 2 guys is going to help me get through it," Rozier-Smolen says.

Andrew says he will go up in the air again. He's just going to take a few weeks off.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

WSVF Public Inspection File

Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 74317 -