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LDS Survivors of crash thankful for `miracle’

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Three-year-old Adam Wood may have thought his birthday present Aug.31, was an airplane flight to Spokane, Wash., to visit his grandmother. Instead, his best give of the day was being able to walk away from the jetliner that crashed and burned on the runway.

He is one of at least four LDS members who were among the 95 survivors of the crash at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport involving a Delta Air Lines 727 bound for Salt Lake City Aug. 31. Thirteen people died in the accident.The other members are Dennis Selvage of the Hunter (Utah) 10th Ward, Salt Lake Hunter East Stake, and Jane Wood and her two sons, Evan, 5, and Adam, 3, of the Garland (Texas) 2nd Ward, who were en route to visit her mother in Spokane, Wash.

Seven returned missionaries of the Texas Dallas Mission were to have been aboard the flight, but plans were changed a month ago to release them a day earlier, said Pres. Douglas E. Brinley. He said the decision was made on the basis of scheduling.

Selvage, 43, a technician for AT&T who flies often, said he heard a couple of pops just as the plane lifted off, and the wings veered down. The plane was "waffling in the air."

The plane tilted and "then I knew that we were going to impact. I was so scared I went into shock; I figured I just had another second to live." The plane's first impact wasn't too strong, but he saw a huge orange ball of flame out the window. The next impact was "tremendous. It really shook us."

Before he could get off, smoke filled the cabin and he could feel the heat from the fire. "I thought that after surviving the crash, I wouldn't survive the smoke and fire; my relief at living through the impact was overcome with fear at dying by burning."

After he got out of the airplane, he said, "I looked at the plane, and realized we should never should been allowed to get off. It was a miracle. There is no way 90 or so people could have survived that."

After being sent to a hospital for X-rays, he later was taken to a hotel room to recover. "I got down on my knees to thank the Lord that He spared my life."

Sister Wood, who has only flown twice before, said that as the plane crashed, "My main thought was to hold on to my 3-year-old, and I was concerned for my 5-year-old," she said. "I just wanted the plane to stop moving so we could get off."

"I mentioned to one set of reporters [afterward] that I honestly felt it wasn't my time to die. I still have a lot to offer to my family; I am serving a mission here."

Sister Wood phoned her husband, Nathan, from a hospital room. Then because the hospital's long distance operators were busy, she called on her visiting teacher, Diana Coon, to inform Sister Wood's mother in Spokane, Wash.

Her mother, Donna Phillips of the Spokane 16th Ward, said she was at work when she heard of the plane crash. "My heart just s;ank. The first thing I thought was that I had said my prayers this morning, and I am sure they are going to be all right. All the workers gathered around me to help me make some phone calls. It was Adam's birthday, and I thought of his cake sitting home on the table waiting.

"Then her visiting teacher, Diane Kunh, called and said that they were all right. Bloess her heart. I cried a bucket of tears in relief."