Franklin native survives N.Y. jet crash

Published 7:59 am Friday, January 16, 2009

The 20 minutes without answers seemed like they stretched into eternity.

Lynette Blunt-Joy, who had been casually shopping at a clothing store in Memphis, received a cell phone call from her mom, who had been traveling for work.

“My plane just went into the Hudson River,” Claudette Mason, a Franklin native, told her daughter. “I just want to let you know, in case I don’t make it, that I love you.”

Mason was among the 155 passengers on the Airbus A320, which had taken off from LaGuardia Airport and was bound for Charlotte, N.C. All survived.

But, for 20 minutes after hanging up with her mother, Blunt-Joy didn’t know the outcome of the crash.

Mason, who had been sitting in the back of the plane on the righthand side, had told her daughter that she could feel the frigid waters of the Hudson River rising up her leg.

“I learned later that she had been standing on the wing,” Blunt-Joy said. “She was extremely calm. It’s unreal to even fathom.”

After Blunt-Joy hung up the phone, she hurriedly called her close-knit family, many who still reside in Franklin.

Ricky Blunt was at work as the Franklin Schools transportation director when he got the call.

“All I could do was pray,” he said. “I said, ‘Lord, please don’t take her. Take me instead.’”

Mason is one of 11 Blunt children.

“Claudette is the baby,” Ricky Blunt said with a laugh. “She may live in Memphis, but she still knows everything that is going on here in Franklin.

Mason’s brother Larry Blunt, a Franklin resident, was out of town when he got the news. He called his wife, Mechelle.

“I need you to get to a television now,” he told her.

Mechelle then told her husband what was on CNN. She saw the plane just above water but no sign of the passengers.

“I just started praying,” she said. “I felt she was going to be OK. God is good.”

The family, who stayed glued to reports on CNN, finally learned that Mason was OK when they saw her in video images of a rescue boat.

“I got down on my knees and thanked God,” Blunt said. “I’m just so thankful tonight. I’m rejoicing in her safety.”

Blunt-Joy said her mother credits the flight crew with remaining calm and saving people on board.

“It’s a blessing that she is alive and that everyone was saved,” Blunt-Joy said. “The pilot and crew should be commended. He could have flown into Manhattan, which would have been catastrophic.”

Mason, who was being checked at a New York hospital and suffering some back pain, is in good spirits, her family said.

“She’s doing fine,” Blunt said. “Her spirits are up. That’s just the kind of person she is. She said she’s ready to hop on the next plane and get home.”