LUTZ, Fla. — The pilot of a deadly plane crash Feb. 12 in upstate New York was a Southern Baptist.
Marvin Renslow, captain of the Continental Connection commuter flight that went down and crashed into a home while trying to land at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, attended First Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla. The 900-member congregation is affiliated with the Florida Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention.
Alan Burner, an associate pastor at the church, read a statement from the Renslow family.
“They’re very proud of Marvin’s accomplishments as a pilot,” Burner said. “They know that he did everything that he could to save as many lives as he could, even in the accident.”
He continued, “They want you to know that their faith is that God is sovereign and God is in control even when it seems that everything is out of control.
“They want you to know that their faith, their trust, their hope is in the Lord, the one true and living God,” he said. They know — through their faith — that life does not end on this earth, but life continues as believers with God in heaven. They know that Marvin’s physical life as ended, but his eternal life has just begun.”
All 49 people aboard the aircraft perished in the fiery crash, along with one person on the ground. The flight originated in Newark, N.J.
Renslow, 47, was an Iowa native who lived in the Tampa suburb of Lutz with his wife and two children. He had logged more than 3,300 flying hours since joining Colgan Air, the company operating the flight, in September 2005.
Investigators don’t know what caused the plane to drop off the radar and nosedive to the ground amid light snow and sleet around 10:20 p.m. Crew members did not indicate there were any mechanical problems and no distress signal was given — but other pilots around the same time reportedly complained of ice building on their wings.
“We are greatly saddened by this accident,” said Philip Trenary, president and CEO of Pinnacle Airlines Corp., parent company of Colgan Air. “Our prayers are extended to the family and loved ones of those aboard Flight 3407 and those affected on the ground. Please know that we will commit all needed resources to assist the (National Transportation Safety Board’s) investigation of this accident and work to ensure that a tragedy such as this does not occur again.”
Renslow and four other crew members died in the crash. So did 44 passengers, including an off-duty airline pilot, the widow of a man killed in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, one of the world’s leading experts on genocide in Rwanda and two members of jazz musician Chuck Mangione’s band. Two other people in the house escaped with minor injuries.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)