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Stunned neighbors stand ready to help crash victims

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A day after a plane flew into a house at 2223 Broadmoor Lane, motorists weaved through news trucks and emergency vehicles, straining for a look as neighbors tried to get on with their lives.

Some people came out of their homes to chat with neighbors. Others gave interviews to television news reporters. Still others stayed in their homes to recover emotionally from Thursday.

The plane’s wreckage was still stuck in the back of the house. The home’s backside looked like it had been chewed off.

It’s a bad memory for some neighbors who slept poorly the previous night, finding the images hard to escape enough to relax their minds. They focused their energies Friday on practicing patience until the needs of the Nakao family, who rented the house, come into tighter focus.

Lauren Lewis, 20, heard the sick-sounding roar of the engine. She saw the plane’s shadow glide menacingly across the sunlit ground moments before the horrific impact into the house.

Lewis and her mother, Nancy, were home at the time of the crash, about 9:30 a.m. Lewis’ father, Greg Lewis, who is chairman of the social studies department at Columbus East High School, was not at home.

Nancy Lewis, a women’s minister at First Christian Church in Columbus, said all her family could do a day after the crash is pray. But she said they will be ready to help if a coordinated effort takes shape and people have a central location to donate necessary items like food and clothing.

The Bartholomew County Chapter of the American Red Cross is helping the renters of the destroyed home, Hiroko and Tadashi Nakao, pay to stay temporarily in a hotel, said Mary Ellen Anable, the Red Cross executive director.

Nancy Lewis said she slept fine Thursday night. But Lauren, who was badly shaken emotionally by the plane crash, said she hardly slept at all. She cupped her face in her hands several times as a reporter talked to her in their Broadmoor Lane home.

Another neighbor, Connie Ruble, said she was able to sleep Thursday night even though she was emotionally spent. A day earlier, she and her husband, Larry, had run across the street to try to help the crashed plane’s two occupants.

She said she sprayed a hose on the plane’s wreckage while Larry helped the passenger, Dennis King, get out of the plane.

Connie Ruble said Friday that she hadn’t thought about what the next step might be to help the Nakao family. She said she also knows the pilot, Gerald Clayton, and doesn’t know what to do to help him either.

But she said she wants to help.

Priti Bhatawadekar said she and her husband, Shailesh, and their daughter, Tanushree, 16, have lived in the neighborhood only about a year. She said that although the Nakaos lived next door, she doesn’t know them.

But she and her family wish them and the plane’s occupants a speedy recovery and consider themselves lucky that their own home wasn’t badly damaged, despite being next door to the roaring flames.

Priti Bhatawadekar said police officers stayed in the vicinity all night. And it was that presence, she said, that helped them sleep.

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