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Pelham Batesville firefighter is critical after deadly plane crash

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, May 26, 2014

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Patrick Schultz, third from the left, is in critical condition after a plane he piloted crashed and killed this mother, aunt and nephew near Panama City, Fla, Sunday morning.
 
 
 

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Patrick Schultz, third from the left, is in critical condition after a plane he piloted crashed and killed this mother, aunt and nephew near Panama City, Fla, Sunday morning.

 

 

 

Patrick Schultz, a career fireman from the Pelham Batesville Fire District, is fighting for his life after a small plane he was piloting crashed Sunday morning in Bay County, Fla., that killed three others.

Florida authorities have identified the victims as Kathleen Schultz, reportedly the mother of the pilot, Nancy Moore (aunt) and Nicholas Hoang, 14, (nephew). No hometowns were available.

Schultz was taken to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., in extremely critical condition, according to reports. He underwent his first surgery Monday. Schultz suffered third degree burns on his arms and legs and second degree burns on his chest, back and face, according to PBFD Captain Scott Harris.

“The latest email I received was he came through the first of his many operations today,” said Harris. “The next few weeks are going to be extremely critical. He’ll be in the Augusta Burn Center for at least the next two months.”

The PBFD had a prayer service, led by chaplain Gary Rogers, Monday morning with about 75 fire fighters, nearby residents and several chaplains from other fire districts attending. Three fire officials from the fire station and members from the Cowpens Fire Department, where Schultz is a 10-year volunteer, are in Augusta visiting with the family. “We want to let Pat and his family know our thoughts and prayers are with him,” Harris said.

Tony Blanton, Fire Chief, at Cowpens Fire Department said donations can be made at any First Citizens Bank in the name of “Firefighter Patrick Schultz Benefit”. Other donations like gas cards, gift cards, etc., can be mailed to: Cowpens Fire Department PO Drawer B Cowpens SC 29330.

Schultz, 36, joined the PBFD on July 23 last year. Schultz and his wife, Jessica, have two daughters, ages 12 and 4.

Schultz moved to the Upstate from Florida as a tire changer on a race team. He later gave that up because of the travel and extended time it required to be away from his family.

“He was energetic, outgoing and always positive,” Harris said. “We would meet him coming in when we would leave our shifts. He would high-five us and shake our hands. He was the energy in the room.”

Schultz, a licensed pilot, was piloting a Piper PA28, the FAA reported, when it crashed about 9:30 a.m. Sunday shortly after takeoff from a small grass airstrip. The plane crashed between a corridor of utility lines that was parallel to the runway, about a mile away.

His brother, a Jackson County first responder, pulled Schultz from the wreckage.

“They were having a family day. The pilot was active-duty Army, they had been out flying,” Jackson County Fire Chief Scott Birge said. News reports said family members had been taking turns in the plane when it crashed shortly after its last takeoff.

Bulldozers had to be used to clear a path to the remote crash site for investigators. The biggest challenges were reaching the site with vehicles getting stuck in the sandy terrain, according to deputies.

An explosion from the plane sparked a wildfire that took more than three hours to contain.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

 

 

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