Flight 5966: Latest Details

4:30 PM, Oct 22, 2004   |    comments
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THE LATEST: Of 15 people on board, including a crew of two, 13 died in the crash Tuesday night near Kirksville, Missouri. Two survivors are in fair condition. WHO WERE THE PASSENGERS? Many of the passengers were headed to a conference on humanism in medicine at a Kirksville college. WHAT CAUSED IT? The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recovered the plane's "black boxes" and is investigating the cause of the crash. THE VICTIMS KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) -- Thirteen people died Tuesday night when an American-Connection commuter flight operated by Corporate Airlines crashed south of the Kirksville, Missouri, airport. Two people survived. The airline provided names of the victims. Other information was provided by friends and employers. A look at those killed: Dr. Clark Ator Ator, 39, of Alpine, Utah, was a father of seven, a family doctor who shared a practice in Pleasant Grove, Utah, and served as bishop of his Mormon church congregation. "He's a wonderful man, a wonderful father a great husband and he was just wonderful in this community and looked out for others and was always willing to help and serve," said a close friend, McKay Pearson. Ator also was the assistant regional dean of the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine's Utah region. Rada Bronson Dr. Judith Diffenderfer Diffenderfer worked for the past four years at a clinic in Saginaw County, Mich., her husband, Jeff, said. "Thousands of people knew and loved her," Jeff Diffenderfer told Saginaw television station WNEM. "She was not only an incredible doctor, but an incredible human being. Her patients loved her. She will be missed so much." The Diffenderfers have a 15-year-old daughter, and Judith Diffenderfer has a twin sister who also is a doctor, her husband said. She also was the director of student medical education for the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine's Michigan region. Kathleen Gebard Gebard was an administrator at Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, working out of a hospital in Dayton. "She worked very closely with medical students," her husband, Tim Gebard, of Engelwood, Ohio, said. "She was very involved with her family." Kathy Gebard graduated from Ohio State University and was a big fan of the football team, Tim Gebard said. The two have an 18-year-old son named Aaron. Matthew Johnson Johnson, 25, of Longview, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas, last December, with a degree in photography. He had also attended Kilgore College, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He was an assistant to Paul Talley, a Mesquite-based photographer who was also killed in the crash. They were on their way to Truman State University in Kirksville to photograph the campus when the airplane crashed, Texas A&M University-Commerce said. Johnson was a kind, considerate, sweet and creative person, said Betty Craddock, a journalism professor at Kilgore College. "He was just one of the most caring, positive people I've ever met," Craddock said. Dr. Steven Z. Miller Miller was the director of pediatric emergency medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a popular instructor at the medical school. The president of the medical school addressed students Wednesday afternoon to break the news of Miller's death, leaving some in tears. "A lot of people in our class are very close to him. He's one of the younger and more outgoing attendings -- he has a lot of interaction with the students here because he's very loved," said Josiah Ambrose, a fourth-year medical student. "He was a pretty pivotal part of our medical school." Miller also was a traveling fellow for the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Toni Sarantino Sarantino was the coordinator for the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine's Ohio region. Dr. Richard Sarkin Sarkin, 54, of Buffalo, N.Y., was a pediatrician who has won awards for his medical education programs. He was affiliated with Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo for 20 years. He was also is an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and the director of pediatric medical student education at the University at Buffalo. Sarkin traveled nationally and internationally lecturing and presenting workshops at hospitals and medical schools, making 300 such presentations in the last 15 years, Kaleida Health spokesman Michael Hughes said. He was a traveling fellow for the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Paul Stemmons Talley Talley, 44, of Mesquite, Texas, was a Dallas-area photographer. He was joined on the flight by his assistant, Matthew Johnson, who also died. They were on their way to Truman State University in Kirksville to photograph the campus when the airplane crashed, Texas A&M University-Commerce said. Talley, graduated from the Texas A&M University-Commerce in 1981 when it was East Texas State University. His specialty was photographing universities around the country. He was twice given the photographer of the year award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Higher Education. "He was a master at making staged photographs look absolutely real," said Stan Godwin, an associate professor in the A&M-Commerce department of art who teaches many photography classes. "He had the ability to go into an area and capture the essence of it." Dr. Mark Varidin Varidin, 46, was an osteopathic doctor who worked in St. Petersburg, Fla. His wife Diane said the couple, married for 15 years, have a 5-year-old. Varidin saw patients Tuesday and then boarded a plane for the conference, she said. Varidin was a graduate of the University of Florida and the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and served as the school's regional assistant dean for the Florida region. "He was a good husband," his wife said, "and an excellent father." Dr. M. Bridget Wagner Wagner was an assistant dean of Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine and was the regional assistant dean for the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine's Ohio region. Kim Sasse Sasse, 48, the plane's pilot, joined Corporate Airlines in 2001. He had lived in Ramsey, N.J., for 15 years, his family said. "He lived a very full life," said his father, Victor Sasse, from his home in North River, N.Y., were Kim Sasse grew up. He liked to ski, skydive, target shoot and work on computers. He took a job flying commuter airlines because of a downturn in the airline industry after Sept. 11, his father said, but he had hopes of going to a larger airline. He taught for several years at Essex County Airport. "He used to tell me how a lot of his students would try to cut corners," Victor Sasse said. "He was very safety conscious and that used to annoy people." Kim Sasse called his parents Tuesday afternoon from St. Louis, saying there was bad weather and low visibility, and a lot of flights had been canceled, his father said. Jonathan Palmer Palmer, 29, of Cincinnati, the plane's first officer, joined the airline a few months ago. He had been flying for Corporate Airlines regularly between Kirksville and St. Louis, said his sister-in-law, Laura Palmer of Amelia, Ohio. He had been a pilot and flight instructor a long time, flying 727s until the company he worked for closed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she said. "He was the kind of person who was always good for a good joke or to make you laugh, but he was also very serious about his job," Palmer said. "From the time he was a kid, he wanted to be a pilot. That was the only career he ever cared to have." Palmer, who was single, would have turned 30 in two weeks. (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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