5 Killed in 2-Plane Crash: Dr. Charles Colvin Dies in Tragedy

Five persons perished -- including Dr. Charles Colvin of Ferriday -- early today when two light airplanes collided in mid-air at the Concordia Parish Airport.

Authorities were unable to identify the victims officially as the bodies were burned beyond recognition. But Norman Magee, an attorney who was a close friend to Dr. Colvin, said he positively knew that three of the victims were Dr. Colvin, Steve DuCrest of St. Joseph and pilot Chris Cumbus of Natchez.

Two other persons aboard the fatal plane were unidentified.

The pilot of the second plane, James Seale of Natchez, landed his single-engine Cessna safely, but was taken to the Jefferson Davis Hospital in a state of shock.

Magee, who arrived on the scene shortly after the 7 a.m. collision, said Dr. Colvin and DuCrest were en route to Texas for a deer hunt.

Reports that the two unidentified victims were members of Gov. Albert Brewer's staff in Alabama were not verified.

A spokesman for Gov. Brewer's office In Montgomery said none of the governor's staff was on board the plane. Dr. Colvin, a native of Alabama, and Brewer were former classmates and maintained their friendship in recent visits.

Magee, who flew frequently with Dr. Colvin, said the surgeon and DuCrest, with Cumbus flying, planned to leave here early today for the Texas hunt.

Magee said he knew positively the two other victims weren't from this area.

There weren't any eye witnesses to the crash, but deputies for the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Department reconstructed the tragedy like this:

Seale, in his Cessna, was approaching the airstrip to land when the Bonanza, owned by Fred Schiele of Vidalia, collided with the Seale plane in mid-air. The Bonanza was either taking off or returning to the airstrip to pick up something left behind.

Both planes were in the air. It was foggy.

After the collision over the airstrip, Seale managed to land his plane, even though part of the right wing was ripped off in the collision. One source said he got out of the plane and kicked open a door to the hanger to call for help.

The Bonanza, flown by Cumbus, an experienced pilot, attempted to circle the airport in an effort to land after the collision, but couldn't pull out and fell in an open field about 300 yards from the airstrip.

It erupted into flames on impact and was demolished.

Authorities, from the Sheriff's Department, State Police and Fire Department of Vidalia and Ferriday pulled the bodies from the rubble. At first four persons were believed to be on board, but five bodies were discovered.

Dr. William Polk, coroner, arrived to examine the bodies, but couldn't identify them. A dental check will be made for positive identification.

Dr. Colvin was 40 while DuCrest was about 32. Cumbus also was about 40.

Mrs. Colvin arrived near the scene of the accident at about 8:30 a.m. Magee confirmed her fear of her husband's death.

Besides Mrs. Colvin, Dr. Colvin is survived by three small children, Mark, Kathy and Jay. The Colvins moved to Ferrlday six years ago from the Shreveport area.

A talented surgeon. Dr. Colvin was the second physician this area has lost in recent months. Dr. Pollard Coleman was killed several months ago in an auto crash near Ferrlday.

All five bodies were taken to Comer Funeral Home.

Seale is the owner of Seale Ag Service while Cumbus was a commercial pilot. Dr. Colvin, Magee and Schlele were business partners and flew together often with Cumbus.

The two-plane crash was believed to be the worst aerial tragedy in Concordia's history. Numerous crashes have occurred in the parish involving cropdusters, but today's crash was the first for the new Concordia airport.

At the scene shortly after the crash, deputies feared Magee might have been aboard the burning craft since he was known to fly frequently with Dr. Colvin. But Magee arrived shortly.

There also was a report circulating that Schlele was in the plane, but It was learned later that he went to the hospital to see after Seale.

The Bonanza continued to burn into the morning. Spectators arrived shortly after the accident, but by mid-morning only authorities were left.

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