Resident honored for rescue efforts in recent plane crash

By Monroe Roark Times Correspondent

Corey Small was in the right pasture at the right time.

While tending to about 60 head of cattle at a farm off Miller’s Mill Road the afternoon of Oct. 16, he saw a plane in distress going down just after takeoff from Berry Hill Airport. His quick response allowed him to pull the two occupants of that plane to safety before the situation became tragic.

A police photo shows the airplane damaged from the crash. Special photo

Small was honored with a proclamation from the Henry County Board of Commissioners at its Nov. 15 regular meeting. Henry County police chief Keith Nichols, a personal friend of Small, made the presentation.

Employed by Delta Air Lines as an inspector, Small was able to recognize the trouble the plane was in by the sound of its engine, Nichols said.

Chairman Tommy Smith presents citizen Corey Small with a Certificate of Appreciation for heroism in responding to a plane crash incident that occurred last month in the county. Pictured Chairman Smith, Corey Small, District II Commissioner Dee Clemmons, Police Chief Keith Nichols and District V Commissioner Bruce Holmes; back row District IV Commissioner Blake Prince, District I Commissioner Bo Moss and District III Commissioner Gary Barham.

“Corey was instrumental in saving the pilot as well as the passenger,” said Nichols, adding that the passenger was the pilot’s eight-year-old granddaughter.

He was wrapping up his day with the cattle and on his way back to the barn when he heard the plane take off and dialed 911 as he saw the craft disappear behind a line of trees. He immediately turned his four-wheeler around and sped off in the direction of the crash, where he found the pilot half-in and half-out of the plane.

The pilot’s granddaughter was in the floor of the cockpit and the plane was filling with fuel, which could create “a dire situation,” Nichols pointed out. He removed the child from the plane first, then came back and used his leg for leverage to remove the pilot, who was wedged in underneath the instrument panel.

As he got both people to safety, Small remained in contact with 911 operators, guiding them to the correct location, which Nichols said could have been very difficult for first responders to locate without his help.

“Despite his own risk to personal safety, he reacted,” said Nichols. “I believe that because he was where he was at the time, lives were saved.”

Small praised the first responders for their actions. “That’s who we really need to thank. They got there and took over, saved lives.”

He said his phone showed only eight minutes passed between the time he placed the call and when they arrived. The two crash victims were taken from the scene by helicopter 40 minutes after Small called 911.

“The pilot landed in the grass and not the woods,” he added. “That made it easier for [first responders].”

The pilot broke his leg, hip and pelvis while also suffering facial injuries, Small reported. The girl broke her leg in three places and suffered chemical burns from the fuel, he added, but both will likely recover.