LEXINGTON, Ky. – Passengers rushed through the terminal at Blue Grass Airport, checking their bags and filing through security before boarding their planes. A typical Monday morning except for the newspaper headlines under their arms.
"Crash kills 49," said the banner headline in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Twenty-four hours earlier, a Delta-Comair regional jet taking off for Atlanta went down the wrong runway and crashed in flames. There was only one survivor among the 50 people aboard Comair Flight 5191, the first officer, who was hospitalized in critical condition.
"It gives you chills," said Ellen Cloyd, a gray-haired matron of the terminal's information counter.
Mark Carroll, 47, was well aware of Sunday's tragedy, but the information technology consultant from Lexington had to get to Jackson, Miss., for business Monday morning. The first leg of his trip was to Atlanta — the regular 6 a.m. Comair flight that had crashed the day before.
"Obviously there is some anxiety when something like this happens," Carroll said, but it "is not something that would stop me from going. I am more scared of getting a shot at the doctor's."
What did give Carroll pause was the thought he might have known some of the victims.
Flight 5191, taking off for Atlanta in darkness and light rain early Sunday, ended up on a runway too short for the commuter jet's size and weight and couldn't get fully off the ground. It clipped trees at the end of the runway, crashed in a field and quickly burned.
On Monday, that early Lexington-to-Atlanta flight was renumbered as Delta 6107. It departed safely at 6:17 a.m.
Delta-Comair workers wouldn't say how many people were aboard. A Delta spokesmen didn't immediately return a call for comment.
Some travelers masked their anxiety with dark humor.
"I hope the guy gets the right runway," said Steve Hogge, 54, of Richmond.
Others tried to put the tragedy in perspective.
"It is a little scary," said Jill Nowlin, 31, of Georgetown. "But I work for the trucking industry. Occasionally accidents do happen and we try to do everything to prevent something like that from happening again.
"It doesn't give you that warm and happy fuzzy feeling inside," she said of flying. "But it is something I got to do."