Profiles Of Transplant Crash Victims

By: AP
By: AP

Six University of Michigan Survival Flight team members were aboard a twin-engine Cessna Citation that crashed into Lake Michigan shortly after taking off from Milwaukee.

Here are some of their stories:
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Richard Chenault II would drop whatever he was doing any time of the day or night when a call came to join one of the University of Michigan's organ transplant missions.
Chenault hoped to make it back to Michigan on Monday from one of those lifesaving trips in time to attend a high school sports banquet, and with good reason -- he was going to get coach-of-the-year honors in both girls track and girls cross country.
He never made it.
Father Gabriel Richard High School students, parents and coaches were attending Monday night's Operation Friendship Championship Banquet when they got word of the accident, said school counselor Barbara Brown.
"We were in great shock" when word came that the plane was missing, she said. Chenault, 44, of Ann Arbor spent 18 years coaching girls at Gabriel Richard near Ann Arbor, a coed Catholic school with 500 students in grades nine through 12.
"Students are shocked and very devastated, very sad, but very supportive for one another. Our students, because we are a Christian school, are relying on our faith to make some sense out of all of this."
Many students and numerous alumni who had been coached by Chenault attended the regular morning Mass on Tuesday. Parents and priests from area parishes came in to help counsel students on the loss of a man Brown described as a mentor.
"He was more than a coach," she said. "He treated the girls with utmost respect. They treated him with respect.
"It was important for him that they set personal goals and they really strive for those goals."
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Richard LaPensee was married 23 years and fought fires for 18 for the Ypsilanti, Mich., Fire Department, where he also served as an emergency medical technician.
Lt. Michael Wells described him as a "real nice guy, a real jokester. Everybody loved him. He pulled pranks. He was quick-witted."
Aside from his family -- wife Claudia and sons Brendan, 18, and Derrick, 14 -- LaPensee, 48, loved airplanes, Wells said.
LaPensee enjoyed flying radio-controlled model planes. And when a spot opened for a University of Michigan life flight medical technician three years ago, he jumped at it, Wells said.
Ypsilanti firefighters work three 24-hour shifts each week, with four days off. The schedule means that the 21 firefighters get to know each other pretty well, Wells said.
"It's like having another brother," he said.
LaPensee got off work at 7 a.m. Monday and told a co-worker that he had a transplant flight that day to Milwaukee, Wells said.
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Dr. David Ashburn came to the university in 2005 for a cardiac surgery residency and would have begun his pediatric cardiac surgery fellowship in July, said Mary-Lynn Hodges, a family friend.
The Dexter, Mich., resident and his wife, Candice, have three children, the university said. It said he graduated from Quillen College of Medicine in 1998 and completed an internship and residency at Wake Forest University.
Hodges released the following statement from his wife: "My children and I are resting in our faith in Jesus Christ. We are comforted by the assurance of David's presence in heaven.
"The road ahead will be difficult but we know God's grace is sufficient and his peace beyond understanding."
Hodges said Candice Ashburn also summed up her 35-year-old husband's life another way: "He loved his Lord, his family and turkey hunting."
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Cardiac surgeon Dr. Martinus Spoor was no stranger to the air transplant business, making about 10 such flights a year, the university said.
"Martin was a gentle soul. He was very smart, had a dry sense of humor and just was a gentle and kind human being," said Dr. Steven F. Boling, who taught heart valve repair techniques with Spoor. "He was a great technician and surgeon with a brilliant career ahead of him."
Spoor, a 37-year-old native of Canada, got his medical degree at the University of Calgary. He and wife Susan, also a doctor, have three children. He lived in Ann Arbor.
"Martin was a wonderful father, husband, son, friend and doctor," said Barb Chamness, a family friend. "We are very saddened and the family needs their privacy."
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Dennis Hoyes made a career as an owner of several insurance agencies. But after selling his successful Jackson-area business, he started spending long hours at the Jackson County Airport to pursue his love of airplanes.
For a while, he worked as an adjunct flight instructor for Jackson Community College's aviation program. He also would give free lessons to anyone who asked, said Murd Davis, chairman of the airport's hangar owner association.
"He is the nicest guy," Davis told The Jackson Citizen Patriot. "He loved to do stuff like that."
Hoyes, 65, lived in Blackman Township. He was married with four children, and has a handful of grandchildren he loved to take camping and brag about.
"He used to say he wasn't going lo leave his money to his grandchildren, he was going to spend it on them," said friend John Feldvary, director of the community college's flight program.
Hoyes owned several planes and helicopters, Feldvary said.
He survived a broken back from a crash at the airport in 2002 when his landing gear failed, doing "a very remarkable job" in bringing the small plane down on a grassy embankment, said Thomas Finco, Blackman Township safety director at the time.
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Bill Serra, 59, of Macomb Township was Marlin Air's chief pilot, with 12,000 hours of flight time on everything from small planes to 747s and DC8s, according to the University of Michigan.
Serra was honored by the Air Force in 1993 for his work as a civilian pilot delivering material and ammunition to U.S. forces during the Persian Gulf War.
He was married and had three children.
"He was the most easygoing guy you could ever meet," friend Adil Samman told the Detroit Free Press. "He always smiles. Everybody loved him."
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