'Good Friday Miracle' Remembered
By Zsa Zsa Palagyi
The 700 Club
CBN.com -It was Good Friday, a little past noon. School had just been let out for Easter break in Virginia Beach, Virginia, when something completely unexpected happened.
Cheryl McKee owns a pet supply store in Virginia Beach and says, “The air started vibrating.”
Ten-year-old Isabelle Travers was heading out to play with a friend and remembers, “I just heard a loud noise, and it went chick-a-boom, boom, BOOM!!!”
Zsa Zsa Palagyi thought it might have been a tornado or a terrorist attack, “There was all this black stuff, I mean like heavy, dark, black smoke just going by the window.”
Ben Dishner says it looked like a war zone. “I’m like, ‘My God, no, no, no!’ I’m just screaming ‘NO, NO, NO!’”
It was an F/A 18D Hornet that had malfunctioned right after takeoff from the nearby Oceana Naval Air Station. It slammed into the Mayfair Mews apartment complex in a highly populated residential neighborhood.
911 received a number of calls. “Virginia Beach 911. Where’s the Emergency?” An eye-witness replied, “A Navy plane just went down off of 24th Street. The apartment building is completely destroyed.”
After an explosion, another caller is recorded as saying, “Oh my God, it’s terrible. The whole thing is on fire. And it’s a senior community. Oh my God, all those old people. Oh my God! Oh my Jesus!”
The jet’s two-man crew ejected, just 50 feet above ground. Patrick Kavanaugh was there. “I saw the pilot laying on the ground here, on his side, hands in the air, white as a sheet. He was still connected to his parachute, which was connected to the roof of this building here. We had to cut the lines, get him free of the parachute. A bunch of us picked him up, dragged him to the front parking lot area, away from the flames. The heavy, black, thick smoke started to come over the rooftop here and I knew we had a matter of minutes before the fire was going to come this way.”
As the ominous black smoke rose from the crash site and countless emergency responders ran to the scene, everyone expected the worst. Neighbor Cheryl McKee declares, “I saw it go in and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, they’re all dead!’”
Patrick Kavanaugh looked back at the buildings, “And I just counted the people that had perished. Because I’m here every day. I’m retired. I don’t go anywhere. I got to the front and looked and ‘They’re dead. They’re passed away. She’s gone.’”
Mayor Will Sessoms of Virginia Beach feared the same, “When I came over here, about right where we’re standing, there was a massive fire still going on. There were buildings to my right that were pretty well demolished.”
Earl Mawyer was manager of the Mayfair Mews at the time. He was heading out of town when he heard about the crash. He’d already been praying for his tenants for 11 years--- so he immediately turned to God. “I knew whether there was casualties or not that He needed to be there. So I just prayed that He would be there. All I could do was think about people suffering and burning. And I just wanted Him to be there on this scene, you know, just to comfort people.”
Earl began searching for his tenants and was able to locate all but four. So he continued to pray. And the next day, the four missing persons were located ALIVE—and one by one, others started sharing their miraculous stories of survival.
Ben Dishner lived and worked part-time at The Mayfair Mews before the Navy jet destroyed his home. “There’s no earthly reason for me to be standing here talking to you today,” Ben says. “I take my lunch religiously at 11:30am to 12:30pm every day and by all rights, I should have been in my house playing computer games, but God told me to set some more tile. I’m like, ‘But it’s 5 minutes ‘til twelve. I’m past lunch.’ You know I’m gonna go to lunch, and something said, ‘Nah, just set these 8 more tiles.’ Eight more tiles – well I say 8 more tiles saved my life, but God saved my life.”
The jet crashed through Ben’s apartment window and set his place on fire. But life was spared, as were his wife’s and his father-in-law’s lives. “We had to take him to the hospital a couple of months before. He had some complications and had to go to rehab. If he hadn’t have gone to rehab, he would have been home. A week before the crash, they changed my wife’s schedule. If they hadn’t changed her schedule, she’d have been sitting on the couch when the plane came through the front window.”
Sandy Hall would normally have been at home when the jet crashed, as well – but her plans changed at the last minute on that Friday morning, saving her life, too. Sandy says, “I have a cleaning business and a client had texted me and asked me to come later being that it was Good Friday and her son was home from school. So I texted her back and said, ‘How about around 10?’ She said ‘Perfect.’ So I left here at 20 to ten instead of leaving here at 8 ‘o clock like I normally do. And normally I’m home by noon. Well, it was about 12:30pm, quarter to one when I got the phone call at work that a jet had crashed.”
While Sandy was out, her apartment and everything in it went up in flames.
But even people that WERE home made it out safely.
Cheryl McKee owns a pet supply store right next to Mayfair Mews and remembers, “I actually watched a man walk out of the apartment that the plane went in. He came out the front door. The plane went down the back. And he came out and didn’t really realize something had happened.”
Linda Warnick was in her second story apartment with her grandchildren Egan and Haven when the jet made impact. But they too, made it through their front door without a scratch. “People across in the other townhouses told us that the heat was so intense that they couldn’t come out their front doors,” Linda says. “They went out the back doors.”
Egan remembers, “I didn’t even feel nothing. I didn’t even feel the flames. It’s kind of like God protected us.”
Haven didn’t feel the flames, either. “I felt God just around me, hugging me.”
And since the jet was fully fueled when it crashed, the point of contact was critical.
“With God honoring my prayers, I think He put that thing in the most perfect spot,” Earl Mawyer notes. “It’s like He kind of just dropped it in this cove here to stop the explosion from going further or debris. When you place God on the scene, be prepared for a miracle.”
Linda Warnick affirms, “God definitely was on the scene that day. Because otherwise if it had gone a few feet further, we wouldn’t be here today to tell the story. And it definitely makes you think. You might not be thinking of God, but He’s right there all the time thinking about you.”
Sandy Hall adds, “What else kept me from being in my home that day? What else kept me and anybody from being hurt? Not even the pilots.”
Ben Dishner concludes, “God had His hand all around this.”
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