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One day recently, Susan Crockett revisited her home at 22 Utica Path, which was boarded up and uninhabitable after a plane crashed through the roof Jan. 4. Crockett was simply there to grab the mail.
She flipped down the mailbox door and found a yellow packaging envelope. Inside was a homemade card made out of construction paper, folded into quarters.
In pencil, it read: “Hi, my name is CJ. I am 9 years old. I heard what happened to your house, so I thought instead of keeping my gift cards, I will give it to you so you can buy clothes, or whatever you need.”
Underneath the note were two smiley faces and a stick figure of a smiling person.
Two Target gift cards were attached to the paper with Scotch tape.
The note was from C.J. Brimhall, of Palm Coast.
“It was just amazing,” Crockett said Wednesday with a smile.
It might seem small, but to Crockett, it’s gigantic. This 9-year-old’s generosity is just one example of how a community has helped Crockett after the crash.
It has been two weeks since the Bonanza H35 carrying three people crashed through a bedroom of Crockett’s Seminole Woods home, killing all three on board.
Crockett’s survival is a miracle. But she was left with essentially nothing but the clothes she was wearing on that tragic day. And so, her friends and family — specifically her church family from Mount Calvary Baptist Church — have been her support.
That group starts with Carol Coffie, the pastor’s wife and longtime friend of Crockett.
The night of the accident, Coffie and a few friends went to Crockett’s daughter’s house, bringing pajamas, another change of clothes, bottled water and tea.
“They were just there,” Crockett said. “To be able to take a shower and have clean clothes — that was the biggest thing.”
Coffie has also set up the Susan Crockett Relief Trust Fund at Intracoastal Bank. Anyone can donate money via mail (1290 Palm Coast Parkway N.W., Palm Coast 32137) or in person.
“I think one of the most touching things for me throughout the course of this was the strength (Crockett) was able to muster up,” Coffie said. “Two days after the accident, to our surprise, she came to fulfill her usual responsibilities (at church).”
That included showing up first thing Sunday morning to teach Sunday school.
“To us, it said no matter what things she had lost, she was trying to make a connection with what was familiar and a stable force in her life,” Coffie said.
After staying in a hotel for a few days, Crockett is now staying at Las Palmas. It’s not permanent, but permanent is not within her reach yet. The entire situation is a tangled web, said Marc Dwyer, the attorney representing Crockett.
Dwyer said he has been in contact with the insurance company that holds the homeowner’s policy on Crockett’s house, but “her journey from tragedy to triumph is going to be much longer than it takes for this homeowner’s policy to be determined. And that’s the part that we’ll just be diligently staying on top of to make sure that’s one less thing she has to worry about.”
Dwyer said the pilot’s insurance policy will come into play eventually, too. But it will be undetermined how much liability or fault the pilot had — at least not until a full report is released. Dwyer said several issues could come into play, such as mechanical failure or operator error. A preliminary report was due out 10 days from Jan. 5 from the National Transportation Safety Board. Check www.PalmCoastObserver.com for details from the report.
Regardless, investigators and several insurance companies will be arguing for months to come, he said.
In the meantime, Crockett hopes to slowly regain some normalcy in her life. But that’s hard to do when you lose everything, she said.
“It’s just incredible how the regular, everyday pressures are magnified when you don’t have a home, a place to lay things down,” Dwyer said.
One thing is for sure, though. Crockett will be busy planning for her oldest daughter’s wedding, which will be Jan. 26.
“I just want to thank everyone who has reached out to me and my family,” Crockett said, adding that people she doesn’t know have helped. “If I passed (those people on the street right now), I wouldn’t know who they were. But they were willing to help my family. And I want to thank (them).”