Helena honors 2 men who helped save plane crash survivors - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Helena honors 2 men who helped save plane crash survivors

L-R:Duane Lovelady, Mayor Mark Hall, and Ralph Watkins. Source: John Huddleston/WBRC L-R:Duane Lovelady, Mayor Mark Hall, and Ralph Watkins. Source: John Huddleston/WBRC
HELENA, AL (WBRC) -

Raw emotions still flow freely from Duane Lovelady every time he talks about pulling four people from the wreckage and the flames of a small plane crash.

"I don't know if it's changed me or not. But I'm still here, I'm still crying because I'm happy for these people," said Lovelady.

At Monday night's Helena city council meeting, Lovelady and his friend Ralph Watkins were presented with a certificate of commedation for their role in saving the lives of Dan and Sharon Smith, their son Andy, and his girlfriend Katey Hargrove.

On July 31, the party was flying home to Dickinson, Tennessee after vacationing in Panama City, Florida.

They were attempting to land at the Bessemer Airport when their plane lost partial engine power, and crashed just off South Shades Crest Road in Helena.

"When you have something like that happen, you know the first thing that you see normally, if you see flames, you run from them. Right? These guys went toward it," said Helena Mayor Mark Hall.

"He [the pilot] said the gas tanks are going to blow up," said Lovelady. "I just looked at them and kept on trucking."

Authorities say without Lovelady or Watkins, no one on board would have survived. However the two men credit someone else.

"God did this. We're being recognized but we didn't save these people. Somebody was with them," said Watkins.

The two men haven't spoken to anyone on the plane since the crash. However they say two friends of the young man on board drove all the way from Tennessee just to visit them and say "thank you" for saving their friend's life.

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