A thank you trip....straight to God
From the Sun-Sentinel-
It was supposed to be a fishing trip to say thank you to 21 of his employees.
But on Sunday, John Wohlford, co-owner of Identity Printing and Graphics in Fort Lauderdale, was grappling with the worst tragedy of his life.
Four of his employees and a friend died Saturday in a plane crash on their way to the Bahamas, a trip that he organized. The deceased included his brother-in-law, Glen Quackenbush, who piloted the plane.
"It's just devastating," Wohlford said Sunday while his father tried to comfort him in front of the Plantation home where Quackenbush lived. "We were all like family."
With no survivors, no witnesses and virtually no wreckage to work with, federal investigators faced a grim task Sunday, trying to find out why the small plane crashed after takeoff Saturday from Fort Lauderdale, killing all five men on board.
Although no bodies were recovered, the emotional task of making arrangements began for the five families.
Investigators will look at the pilot's skills, whether his twin-engine Piper Aztec had a mechanical problem or whether the plane was loaded properly, said Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
The 42-year-old plane, owned by Quackenbush, took off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport about 9:15 a.m. Saturday, headed toward Andros Island in the Bahamas. Less than 15 minutes later, when it was about 17 miles east of Fort Lauderdale over the Atlantic, the six-seat plane dropped off radar. Air traffic controllers at Miami Center had been monitoring the flight.
Quackenbush apparently made no distress call, Bergen said. The U.S. Coast Guard launched a search and saw debris on the ocean surface. The bulk of the wreckage probably sank in water hundreds of feet deep, officials said.
The Coast Guard suspended the search for bodies and wreckage until new information comes forward, said a spokeswoman, Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Johnson.
The National Transportation Safety Board likely will not determine a "probable cause" for the crash for at least a year.
According to federal records, Quackenbush earned a private pilot's license with ratings to fly single- and multi-engine airplanes.
Officials will look into the plane's maintenance history, and they will try to determine whether it was overloaded, carrying five occupants, gear and fuel.
Say a prayer for all the families of the men who died on the plane. God bless them all.
I wouldn't be hard on Mr. Wohlford. He is probably going through a mental state of hell. The man was being a generous employer but tragedy struck, and from what we know now it was no fault of his own. There have been other, bigger airplane crashes where men and women were given a gift trip that ended in disaster instead. For instance, BOAC Flight 911 where some businessmen and their wives were awarded a trip to the Far East. All of 111 passengers on that plane crashed and died in 1966.
The lesson from all this is I guess we never know when our time to die will be.
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