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Plane crash claims DL man

A former Detroit Lakes man who died Sunday morning in a plane crash in Kentucky is described by friends as outgoing and well liked.

Kelly Heyer, 27, worked as a flight attendant and was aboard the Comair Flight 5191 when it took off on the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport, Lexington, Ky.

"That's what everyone has been saying about him, and they're right on the money -- warm and caring," said high school friend Andy Van Dam, Detroit Lakes. "That's the sound bite of the week, and it's definitely true with Kelly."

Heyer and Van Dam graduated from Detroit Lakes High School in 1997. Both were active in band and theater.

"We were friends since his family moved to town in about 1988 and then pretty much through high school," Van Dam said. "We were involved in a lot of things together."

Forty-nine of the 50 occupants died when the plane clipped some trees and crashed into a field about a mile from the runway, bursting into flames. One co-pilot was pulled from the burning wreckage and is in critical condition.

Although close in high school, Van Dam said the two had lost contact after high school except when bumping into each other now and then.

In fact, when he heard a flight attendant named Kelly Heyer died, Van Dam said he hoped it wasn't his former high school friend because he didn't know he was a flight attendant.

Heyer had been hired as a flight attendant for Comair in 2004.

"We did so much together over the years (during school), I just didn't realize it until recently," Van Dam said.

He added that although they were involved in Boy Scouts and church outings, it was plays, musicals and band that brought out Van Dam's best memories. He said whenever Heyer got involved with a project or activity, he was dedicated to it and gave it his best.

Comair is owned by Delta Air Lines. The flight was headed to Atlanta, where most of the passengers were catching connecting fights to other cities.

According to the Star Tribune, the CRJ-100 plane needs 5,000 feet of runway to take off. It was scheduled to leave the Kentucky airport on a 7,000-foot runway, but somehow ended up on a 3,500-foot runway. Authorities are looking into what happened that caused the plane to take off on the wrong runway.

This was the first commercial airline crash since November 2001, when an American Airlines flight crashed in New York City, killing 265 passengers and people on the ground.

Heyer, a 2003 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduate, lived in Cincinnati. He majored in French and music in college, and minored in business finance.

His parents, Dave and Barb Heyer, still live in Detroit Lakes. He is also survived by two brothers, Chris, Detroit Lakes, and Eric, Fargo.

The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 6, in First Lutheran Church, Detroit Lakes. David-Donehower Funeral Home, Detroit Lakes, is in charge of the funeral arrangements.