The cause of the crash has been attributed to pilot error for taking off on the wrong runway. There was one air traffic controller on duty that morning even though the FAA had recommended two. The pilots took off of the shorter runway, runway 26, which was much too short for their take-off. They should have taken off down runway 22. Co-pilot Polehinke even noted on the flight data recorder that it was weird that the runway did not have lights. Runway 22 did not have lights because it was meant for daytime, smaller aircraft landings. The airport had recently undergone construction and runway reconfiguration and marking had occured. That updated information was not provided to the pilots by Comair.
The plane struck a berm at the end of the runway, becoming airborne momentarily before crashing about 1,000 feet from the runway, going through a field and trees. The plane caught fire. It is thought that most of the passengers and crew died instantly.
James Polehinke, the first officer, suffered injuries including multiple broken bones, a collapsed lung, and severe bleeding. He was pulled from the wreckage by Lexington-Fayette and airport police officers, and underwent surgery for his injuries, including an amputation of his left leg. Doctors later determined that Polehinke had suffered brain damage and has no memory of the crash or the events leading up to it. As of August 2007 Polehinke was confined to a wheelchair. During the same month Polehinke filed a lawsuit against the airport and the company that designed the runway and taxi lights
The afternoon before the crash, Scarlett Parsley had arrived in a horse drawn carriage for a fairy tale wedding to Jon Hooker. Hooker had played college baseball for the University of Kentucky with 2006 CY Young Award Winner Brandon Webb. They were on their way to the honeymoon when the plane crashed. The decorations from their reception at the Headley-Whitley Museum in Lexington were still up as the plane crashed. The owner of the farm where the plane crashed found Hooker's wedding ring months after the NTSB had left the scene.
There was a teenage girl from Oklahoma visiting the area with her mother and horse trainer to pick a horse. The flight was overbooked and the mother decided she would take a later flight and let her daughter and her trainer take Flight 5191. She was at the airport when the plane crashed.
The following information comes from Wikipedia (visit link
The aircraft involved, N431CA, was a 50-seat Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-100ER, serial number 7472. Manufactured in Canada in January 2001, it was delivered to the airline on January 30, 2001.
The crew consisted of Captain Jeffrey Clay, 35, who was hired by Comair in November 1999, First Officer James M. Polehinke, 44, who was hired in March 2002, and flight attendant Kelly Heyer, 27, hired in July 2004. Comair president Don Bornhorst stated in a press conference that Clay was very familiar with the aircraft.
The flight was sold under the Delta brand as Delta Flight 5191 (DL5191) and was operated by Comair as Comair Flight 191 (OH191/COM191). The flight had been scheduled to land at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 7:18 a.m.
From the webpage (visit link
Sculpture Memorializes Flight 5191 Victims
Media Contact: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-1754, x229
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 24, 2007) - With the anniversary of the crash of Comair Flight 5191 coming on Monday, the University of Kentucky Art Museum has installed a 23 foot fiber sculpture called "MEMORIAL: 5191" by renowned artist and UK professor Arturo Alonzo Sandoval. The sculpture memorializes the 49 victims of the flight bound to Atlanta that departed from Lexington's Bluegrass airport.
Sandoval's piece is part of the UK Art Faculty Exhibition featuring work by UK art faculty, which will open in Sept. 1. However, "MEMORIAL: 5191" will be made available for public viewing Monday, August 27.
Sandoval describes "MEMORIAL: 5191" as a mixed media installation depicting his personal beliefs in life after death. The fiber sculpture measures 12 feet x 12 feet square at its base and 23 feet high. All 49 Comair 5191 victims are represented in the main spiral design on the Hubble Telescope image of the Eagle Nebula.
Sandoval is a member of the faculty at the UK Department of Art. His experimental techniques and expressive interpretations in fiber art over his three-decade long career have earned him an international reputation. Sandoval is the 2007 recipient of the Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize, which recognized the numerous awards and international recognition that the artist/educator has achieved over the last four years.
There is currently no public memorial at the scene of the crash. However, the owner of the farm plans to build a memorial that the families that lost loved ones and the public can visit. Right now the site is Posted as No Trespassing and the entrance to the crash site is roped off.