July 31, 2014

Survivor says great triumphs came out of crash of Flight 232

Sioux City wrapped up its commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 Sunday. A gathering at the Mid American Museum of Aviation and Transportation honored the 112 people who lost their lives in the 1989 crash, and a garden of reflection was dedicated in their honor.

Captain Al Haynes, the pilot who guided in the stricken DC-10 airliner and helped 184 people survive, was greeted with a standing ovation by a crowd of several hundred.

“We are very grateful and very appreciative of everything that took place in Sioux City,” Haynes says. “And I don’t know how we can possibly explain to you — everybody’s tried — how much has come out of Sioux City. The way pilots are trained, the way flight attendants are trained, the way fire departments are trained, the communications services…that all came out of 232 and what all of you did.”

Jerry Schemmel survived the crash and went on to have a successful sportscasting career with Denver sports teams. Schemmel noted that everyone has a different way of coping, and while many moved forward, others were not able to. “But the world needs to know that out of this terrible tragedy there has also come great triumph for many of us,” Schemmel says. “There are endless stories of survivors and family members of those who have died who have picked up the pieces, who have dusted themselves off, who have moved on and refused to allow the crash of flight 232 and its aftermath to dictate their lives and take away their dreams. Fortunately, there are many more of those stories than the others.”

Schemmel says he will never forget those who died in the crash and says he keeps a list of their names with him in his daytimer. The names of the 112 people who died in the crash were read at the ceremony by the presidents of Briar Cliff University and Morningside College.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)


Cedar Rapids woman drowns in Wapsipinicon River

A Cedar Rapids woman drowned this weekend while tubing down an eastern Iowa river. The Linn County Sheriff’s office identified the woman as 29-year-old Andrea Zimmermann.

Rescuers were called to the Wapsipinicon River shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday after Zimmermann and three other people riding tubes went over a dam near Troy Mills. Zimmermann failed to resurface in the swift current. Her body was found later near the dam.


Survivors gather in Sioux City on 25th anniversary of Flight 232 crash

Events in Sioux City this weekend will mark the 25th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232. There were 112 people killed in the crash, but 184 passengers survived. Pilot Al Haynes, who guided the plane with engine problems into the Sioux City airport, and some of the passengers are returning.

The director of the Mid America Air Museum Larry Finley says things begin tomorrow evening with a panel discussion. “And that is a what happened, what we learned and how has what we learned helped others type program,” Finley says. He says they will also recognize the volunteers who stepped forward. “All those from emergency services to the pizza delivery people who just automatically showed up to feed the people standing in line at the blood bank,” Finley says.

He says Captain Haynes will participate in another panel discussion along with the emergency management officials and others about how they were able to handle the situation. “How did we get ready for this, how did we react and what did we learn? And then the final thing is, how did we share what we learned?,” Finley says. An explosion in the engine sliced hydraulic lines and forced Haynes to bring the plane in to Sioux City on July 19th 1989.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)


Lehigh fire chief on hunger strike to raise money for new station

Lehigh-Fire-DeptThe volunteer fire chief of a small north-central Iowa town is almost a month into a hunger strike as he’s trying to raise money to build a new fire station. Lehigh Fire Chief Kirk Kelley says other fundraisers they’ve tried in Webster County met with little success, so he decided to abstain from solid food for as long as it takes to bring in the needed bucks.

His daily diet is on the light side now. “Two protein shakes, I have fruit juice, I drink chicken broth, that’s usually my nightly meal,” Chief Kelley says, laughing. “You know, you’ve gotta’ have chicken at night. Chicken or beef broth, one or the other.”

He says he did consult with a doctor before going on the new diet and it’s not causing him any trouble at his regular job as an electrician or in his position as the town’s volunteer fire chief in the 17-person department. “It’s been rough but not rough in the sense that most people think,” Kelley says. “I really love cheeseburgers and fries and that’s been getting to me.”

The chief admits he did need to lose some weight anyway, so the fire station fundraiser seemed like a good fit. Before he started the strict liquids-only diet, the five-foot-11 Kelley tipped the scales at 280 pounds. “When I started practicing, trying to get my body used to eating less instead of going right to liquids,” Kelley says. “When I started to fast on June 23rd, I weighed 258 pounds. I weigh 230 now. I could probably afford to lose another 20 at least and still be a nice-sized guy.”

The current fire station measures only 30-by-60 feet and dates to the early 1960s. He says it’s far too small and inefficient — and the modern vehicles hardly fit inside. The fundraising goal is $480,000. So far, about $5,000 has been raised.

Learn more at www.lehighfire.com or donate here: www.gofundme.com/6sft1o.

Note: RI’s Matt Kelley and Chief Kirk Kelley are not related.



Child drowns in stock tank in Johnson County

A child died Tuesday after being found underwater in a stock tank the family uses as a swimming pool in eastern Iowa. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department was called at 11:30 a.m. Monday on the report of a possible drowning at a rural home southwest of Iowa City.

Responders found the mother attempting to resuscitate her child, who was then flow by AirCare to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Three-year-old Abby Miller died at the hospital Tuesday morning. Deputies were told the girl was playing in the stock tank with her siblings when she was found underwater.


DNR says mine fire in Clayton doesn’t pose ongoing threat

A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says a fire in a mine last week in eastern Iowa should not pose any ongoing problems. The fire in the underground mine of the Pattison Sand Company in Clayton flared up last Thursday, prompting a warning from the DNR about heavy smoke on the Mississippi River side of the facility.

DNR environmentalist Doug Hawker says the fire was apparently caused by a piece of equipment that began burning, and there is not an ongoing concern about problems in the mine. He says the company has hired a consultant and will clean up any environmetal issues caused by the fire.


Small Business Administration has disaster help available

The federal government is opening two disaster loan outreach centers today in northwest Iowa. The U.S. Small Business Administration will operate the centers in Rock Rapids in Lyon County and in Rock Valley in Sioux County. Both counties were declared federal disaster areas after last month’s severe weather and flooding.

The SBA’s Garth MacDonald says the centers will be open to serve homeowners, renters and business owners face-to-face. “They’ll be open Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 to 5,” MacDonald says. “There’s no appointment necessary, you can just walk in. Anybody from any of the counties that are included in the declaration can go to either center.” In addition to Lyon and Sioux counties, the surrounding counties are also under the declaration. Those are: Cherokee, O’Brien, Osceola and Plymouth counties in Iowa, as well as two counties in Minnesota and three in South Dakota.

While the agency’s name refers specifically to small businesses, MacDonald says the aid is being extended well beyond just businesses. “Homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations can use these low-interest loans to get fully recovered from the severe storms, the flooding, straight-line winds and tornadoes that took place from June 14th through the 23rd.”

While you can apply for the loans over the phone, MacDonald says it’s easier for some people to meet in person, so these offices are being opened in Rock Rapids and Rock Valley to offer that convenience. “Folks can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace a primary residence, up to $40,000 for homeowners or renters to replace personal property and businesses can borrow up to $2,000,000 as well as private non-profits for either physical losses or economic injury impact.” To learn more about the loans, you can call 800-659-2955 or visit: www.sba.gov