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Crash challenges rescue squad

It was a beautiful morning in 1969 or ’70 when I received the call: “Plane crash on Lay Lake, Coosa side, just above the dam.” I came up from Lake Mitchell, launched my boat, went out into the main channel, and there it was, just north of Paint Creek. It was almost a pretty site with the bright sun shinning on it, and as I drew closer the scene became more bizarre.

Those of us who know the area remember the rock cliff that goes right down to the water’s edge. The small plane had struck the bank with such force that the engine was not even visible. Worse yet, the plane was up side down, horizontal with the water and only about 10 feet up, the tail section almost touching the water. The fuselage showed no damage at all.

There was a fisherman on the scene that had very little information, and the onlookers were showing up. The Rescue Squad was on its way, as always, and let me say again how much I appreciate their help over the years. I could only tell that there was a body or bodies inside. I felt better about the crowd as I glanced back and saw a Coosa County deputy. Then I looked back and saw that he had a lit cigarette in his mouth! I yelled, “Get rid of that ciga…” Would you believe he gave it a flip into the water right alongside the plane! We were all lucky that there seemed to be little or no fuel. Whew!

I knew this was going to be a real test for our Rescue Squad. Mr. Lally Bates was one of the first to arrive and immediately recognized the problem. He asked for a flat bottom fishing boat and two body baskets. Lally was able to work himself under the cockpit, started pulling plane parts away, cut the seat belts and removed the remains, which he was able to point out to me as two bodies.Trust me, friends, you don’t need any more description. Again, I tip my hat to Lally Bates.