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Angel of Meercy flight crashes en route to Moffitt


RandyW

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WHen the late Harold "Ernie" Puckette joined us he said he was waiting on his cerification to use his Piper Mooney to transport patients for chemos through Angel Flights, a Charity that operated on a volunteer basis. I just saw this story today! :(

ALso one of the peole on board was a local Lung cancer patient travelling to Moffitt for her chemo!

Martin teen, woman among Angel Flight crash victims

By JILL TAYLOR

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, July 18, 2008

When he heard his 15-year-old brother, Tyler, and his mom's best friend were dead in a Tampa plane crash Thursday, Kevin McLellan smashed his right fist into a tree, bloodying the knuckles but feeling no pain.

Not in his hand, anyway.

After he picked up his hysterical mother at Stuart's Witham Field, where she had been waiting for their flight, and after he tried to calm his 7-year-old sister, McLellan, 18, drove to a tattoo parlor and told the people there what had happened.

"They dropped everything they were doing and started on this," he said Friday, displaying the large design on his left forearm that reads, "In Memory of Tyler, 4-8-93 to 7-17-08."

"He was funny, goofy. He just wanted to be like his older brother," McLellan said. "I thought I owed him that (tattoo). He never got to have one of his own."

Tyler McLellan, who would have been a sophomore at Martin County High School this year, and Patty Snyder, 49, who was fighting her third round with lung cancer, died Thursday afternoon when the small plane in which they were traveling crashed and burned on takeoff at Vandenberg Airport east of Tampa.

Pilot H.E. Northcott, an 81-year-old World War II veteran from the Tampa area who had volunteered his plane and his time for "Angel Flights" for 20 years, also died in the crash.

"Angel Flights" are offered to people with serious medical problems who have trouble affording transportation to facilities far from their homes.

There were initial reports that the Beechcraft Bonanza may have struck an antenna or tower near the runway on takeoff. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

McLellan had volunteered to go on the medical flight with Snyder, who was making regular trips to H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute for what friends described as experimental treatments in the battle against a cancer that just would not stay gone.

"She was so strong. She never complained," said friend Cristy Sittler. "We would take turns flying with her."

Snyder worked at Stuart's Clock restaurant with McLellan's mother, Jill Ellis, and lived within a few blocks in the same Coral Gardens subdivision south of Stuart. The families were close.

When 18-year-old Kevin McLellan decided to stretch his independence a little, he moved in with Snyder to help with the rent and to take care of her when the chemotherapy wore her down.

Snyder had few family members and none locally. She thought of her white and gray tiger cat, Mamasita, almost like a child. The cat wandered the porch of Snyder's small rented house Friday while a visitor sat in a pink Adirondack chair bearing the legend "It's all about Patty" painted in silver letters.

Tyler McLellan was looking forward to his second year at Martin County High and hoped to win a position on the varsity football team after a year as center on the junior varsity team.

Coach Bobby Smith said McLellan was a good player and hard worker on the team.

"He was a good kid. Very respectful," said the coach, who also knew McLellan from several years in Pop Warner football before he started high school.

McLellan's aunt, Patricia DeVito of Palm City, said she was not surprised to hear he had volunteered for the medical flight.

"That was typical of Tyler. ... He was an amazing young man," DeVito said.

The teenager had not made any firm plans for the future, but his family felt he could go as far as he dreamed.

"He just wanted to make us happy. He was going to be the one who went to college," his brother said.

And he was a spiritual young man, according to his brother.

When his grandmother died several years ago, it was young McLellan who comforted his mother, calling her outside to lie on the ground and gaze at the sky, smiling as he sensed his grandmother's presence.

"He always had that connection," his brother said. "He's in a better place now."

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Friday.

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