Family of CEO visits site of fatal plane crash
Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 9:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 9:49 p.m.
The family of P. Allen Golson gathered Saturday afternooon at the site where their loved one and former chief executive officer was killed in a plane crash that injured his wife on Friday.
Golson's brothers, a sister and their spouses, who arrived in a white van and were chaperoned by Marion County Sheriff's Office crisis intervention specialist Cindy Turner, said they wanted to see the area where Golson died.
“I'm going to miss him so much,” Elaine Harris, Golson's sister, said, sobbing. “He had a big heart, was generous and kind and loved his family so much.”
Golson's wife, Carol Golson, is recovering at West Marion Community Hospital from non-life-threatening injuries and is aware of what occurred, said the family, adding that she's dealing with the loss as best as she can.
Golson, who the family said owned several planes and loved flying, had been tapped to become CEO of Ocala Health System, which includes Ocala Regional Medical Center, West Marion Community Hospital and outpatient facilities such as Family Care Specialists and Advanced Imaging Centers.
Golson's appointment as new CEO was announced earlier this month. The leadership transition was set to be complete on Feb. 20.
A U.S. Navy veteran, graduate of the University of Alabama and pilot for the last 15 to 20 years, the 55-year-old Golson was “well-liked by everyone,” his family said, and a “great people person who never had anything bad to say to anyone.”
As the family surveyed the spot where Golson's twin-engine Cessna 340 crashed, two flatbed trucks were leaving the area, hauling pieces of the aircraft to a facility in Groveland, where it will be carefully examined by experts to help determine why it suddenly crashed.
From Macon, Ga., where he had been CEO of Coliseum Health System for seven years, Golson and his wife had boarded the plane in Macon and were approaching the Ocala International Airport.
Family members said the couple was coming to Ocala to look for a home.
The plane had been cleared for a landing, said National Transportation Safety Board Senior Air Safety Investigator Ralph Hicks, one of the investigators at the crash site on Saturday.
Witnesses said the plane suddenly veered from its course, before plowing into an open field south off Southwest 38th Street, which is just south of the airport.
Law enforcement officials said Golson's last contact with the airport tower was at 12:26 p.m., and there was no indication of distress.
Hearing a loud noise, workers from businesses located across the street rushed out with fire extinguishers in an attempt to save those inside the plane.
They managed to pull Carol Golson and their luggage from the plane, but the smoke and fire prevented them from reaching her husband.
For the rescuers' efforts, the family on Saturday expressed their gratitude, and wanted to thank those who risked their lives to try to save Golson and to thank law enforcement officials for responding so quickly to the scene.
At a 4 p.m. press briefing held by Hicks on Saturday, the investigator said they have salvaged all the plane's major components. Hicks said Golson's wife was sitting in one of the back seats of the six-seater aircraft.
Hicks said that, as of June 2011, Golson had a little more than 1,000 hours of flight time as a pilot.
At this point, Hicks said the investigation, which is also being handled by the Federal Aviation Administration, is entering its fact-finding phase, in which they will be gathering information from a variety of sources, such as the weather.
Asked what may have caused the crash, Hicks declined to speculate or offer a possible scenario, saying he didn't want to draw any conclusion without the facts.
He said a preliminary finding will be released soon on the NTSB website.
There's no indication that the plane had a recording device on board, as investigators did not find one. Typically, the kind of plane Golson was flying does not have one, Hicks said.
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