A Jackson County couple who survived a plane crash on an island off the coast of Colombia Monday have become the face and voice of the incident in the U.S.
David and Carolina Bellino of P.J. Roberts Rd., Jefferson, were among 130 survivors of the 737 jet crash. One person died of a heart attack in the incident.
The plane broke apart while attempting to land on the island of San Andres on Monday.
Tuesday, several of the national news networks interviewed the Bellinos by phone. Both were injured in the crash suffering from fractured backs.
The couple was flying to the island for vacation. Carolina is from Colombia, according to friends of the couple.
They attend Chestnut Mountain Church where Carolina volunteers with the children’s ministry.
Cynthia Herndon, children’s ministry director, was among the first to receive a call from Carolina on Monday following the crash. Herndon said she received the call from Carolina at 7:38 EST, some three to four hours after the plane crash.
“The call was from an unknown area code and I chose not to answer the call and Carolina left a phone message,” Herndon said. “I played the phone message back and immediately tried to call the number back to no avail. I also tried David’s and Carolina’s cell phone numbers, but did not get an answer. So, I immediately did what she asked and that was to pray.”
Herndon also said she was shocked.
“I was devastated, shocked, totally speechless. It took me a few minutes to process the whole thing.”
Herndon said Carolina, who is seven to eight weeks pregnant, has said the baby is fine.
“Several church members have spoken to Carolina since the crash and David has been in contact with his sister in Gainesville,” Herndon said.
Carolina told Good Morning America Tuesday that she was thankful to be alive.
“It’s just like a nightmare, but I’m thankful because I’m alive,” she said.
The plane descended through a thunderstorm and landed short of the runway, according to published reports of the incident. The couple told national news interviewers that David helped pull Carolina out of the plane and they tried to run away in case the plane blew up. But David couldn’t go very far.
“I ran about 15 feet and my legs gave out,” he told CBS news.
David reportedly had a broken back from the crash, but is now recovering more use of his legs. Both were scheduled for surgery Tuesday, according to church members who had been in contact with them.
David told CBS news: “It’s a miracle. There’s no other way to look at it.”
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