WOULD WE PANIC OR SPRING INTO ACTION.
EARLIER THIS MONTH, SEVEN PEOPLE WERE HONORED AT THE AMERICAN RED CROSS ":REAL HEROS": BREAKFAST IN BANGOR. INCLUDING SUSAN AND JAMES BRALEY. THE COUPLE WAS GOOD FRIENDS WITH PILOT KENNY TRACY AND HIS FAMILY. LITTLE DID THE FRANKLIN COUPLE KNOW, THEIR LIVES WOULD FOREVER BE LINKED IN TRAGEDY. JAMES AND SUSAN BRALEY TELL THEIR STORY TO T-V 5…
":usually on calm evenings, Kenny would fly by and say hello to all of his friends in the area.":
AND USUALLY, SITTING NEXT TO 52-YEAR OLD KENNY TRACY, WAS HIS CO-PILOT AND 8-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, KENZIE.
":they flew together and they loved to do that.":
ON AUGUST FIFTH OF THIS YEAR, JAMES AND SUSAN BRALEY SAY THEY HEARD THAT FAMILIAR SOUND OF TRACY’S PLANE CIRCLING OVERHEAD, AND WENT OUTSIDE FOR THEIR USUAL WAVE HELLO.
":he made a few passes and I thought he turned to leave, but as I started back up the dock, I heard the crash.":
SUSAN WAS NEARBY PICKING BLUEBERRIES.
":that awful noise, and I can still remember it now, sitting here.":
":I was shocked at the moment and immobile, and I just realized that they were in deep water and they hadn’t come up for a second or two.":
JAMES SHOUTED TO HIS WIFE TO GET THE KEY TO THEIR BOAT. MINUTES LATER, THEY WERE AT THE CRASH SITE.
":they were about 400 yards offshore…when we got out there, I jumped overboard, went down to the wreckage, it was quite murky and so I couldn’t see anything, but I felt the little girl, she was in the back seat and she was immobile.":
JAMES MANAGED TO GET KENZIE’S SEATBELT OFF AND PULL HER TO THE SURFACE. THE YOUNG GIRL WAS UNCONSIOUS.
":my wife pulled her into the boat, and when she hit the interior of the boat, I heard her spit and just, spah. And I said, ‘great.’
SUSAN IMMEDIATELY BEGAN C-P-R…SOMETHING SHE HEAD LEARNED WHILE IN THE MILITARY.
":I may not have done it completely right, but was soon as she started breathing and screaming, because it hurt, I knew it was going to be alright.":
IN THE MEANTIME, JAMES HAD GONE BACK UNDERWATER TO RETRIEVE KENZIE’S DAD, KENNY.
":he was difficult to get free of the wreckage because of the seatbelts and the collapse of the aircraft. And when I got him to the surface, I could tell that he had already passed.":
BY THAT TIME…PEOPLE HAD STARTED GATHERING ALONG THE SHORE. SOON AFTER, AN AMBULANCE APPEARED AND RUSHED KENZIE TO THE HOSPITAL, WHERE SHE SPENT THE NEXT FEW WEEKS IN CRITICAL CONDITION.
":there was some question about her lung capacity, whether she had been damaged by the impact of the salt water intake, and for a few days we were pretty scared. And then as we got word that she was going to be OK, it got a little better for us.":
THE DAY AFTER THE CRASH, T-V 5 TALKED WITH MAINE STATE POLICE LIEUTENANT CHRISTOPHER COLEMAN ABOUT THE BRALEY’S ACTIONS.
":If it weren’t for those efforts it’s pretty likely the girl would have died as well.":
":it was an awful, awful thing, but we didn’t have time to think about how awful it was, we just needed to go.":
SINCE THE CRASH, THE BRALEYS SAY THEY’VE GROWN EVEN CLOSER TO KENNY’S WIDOW AS WELL AS KENZIE AND HER SIBLINGS.
":Susan has on her Kenzie necklace, she gave her one on her birthday, which is unfortunately the same day as the burial of her dad. So, I guess we’re tied, in more ways than one.":
":I think Kenzie had a new set of aunt and uncle in her life, and we’re going to be keeping a close eye on her.":