Thursday, June 30, 2011
Parachute saves life of local pilot
By SUE WATSON
A parachute installed just days prior to the crash of a private single-engine, four-seater Cessna 182, piloted by Ashland attorney John Booth Farese, is credited with saving the man’s life.
Steve Farese Sr. said there is no doubt the parachute saved his brother’s life when John Booth’s plane lost all power and control Monday afternoon shortly after take-off at the Holly Springs/Marshall County Airport.
He said his brother had lost all control of the plane at an altitude of between 300-400 feet and had two seconds to make a decision whether to deploy the parachute or not.
The pilot, who has flown for 40 years or more and who loves flying, was transported by ambulance to The Memphis Med and was in stable condition Tuesday morning, Steve said. Doctors have ruled out a broken leg, but there is some back injury, and the pilot’s legs are all bruised up, he said.
“He’s got a knot on his head, is real banged up and lucky to be alive,” Steve said. “If it were not for the parachute, he would not have lived – no question.”
Steve said his 67-year-old brother is “a very, very experienced pilot – instrument rated and dual engine-rated pilot.”
The family had planned to travel in the plane to Colorado this week but had decided to fly commercial due to weather, he said.
The Cessna 182 took a straight down dive after its motor failed, he said.
The plane came to rest between pines in a wooded area near Bicycle Road, close to the airport.
John Booth crawled out on his elbows from the wreck, then crawled back in on elbows to get his cell phone to call 911, Steve said.
Maj. Kelly McMillen, with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, was second on the scene as firefighters had just arrived. He said John Booth was lying on his back on the right side of the plane and asking for water. He complained about a left knee. Federal Aviation Administration officials were on site early Tuesday morning investigating the cause of the accident, McMillen said. They were in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board.
John Booth had been brought to the airport by an employee, Will Stone, and was dead-heading the aircraft back to Ashland, Steve said. He had no passengers.
His brother had taken an interest in flying at an early age, because his father, the late John B. Farese Sr., had served in the Army Air Corps. The Fareses’ sister, Kay Farese Turner, is also a licensed pilot and so was their mother, Orene Farese, who soloed at around age 70, Steve said.
John Booth’s son, Jason, a dentist, is also a pilot, he said.
Steve is grateful for the speedy response and help from emergency personnel.
“We’d like to thank Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, the ambulance service and EMTs, because they did a fantastic job,” he said. “Kenny Dickerson and Kelly McMillen and David Cook all were tremendously helpful. Everybody was ‘Johnny-on-the-Spot.’
“We read about accidents every day and this time it happened to us.”
John Booth’s wife, Cindy, was by his bedside all night at The Med, Steve said.
He also expressed gratitude to a soldier on leave from Afghanistan who heard the crash and ran to the site in the woods to offer help. The soldier was identified by media sources as Private First Class Arthur Jones, on a 15-day leave from Afghanistan.
“It’s not a common thing to put a parachute on a plane,” Steve said. “It’s expensive. In this instance it saved a life.”
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