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In this 2018 staff file photo, a search and rescue inflatable returns to the ramp at the Possum Creek ramp on Chickamauga Lake as others search for wreckage from a plane crash near Soddy-Daisy. / Staff file photo by Tim Barber

After losing her husband in a deadly plane crash last year, a Hamilton County woman is giving back to the first responders who worked the tragic accident.

Retired U.S. Marine Capt. Frank Davey and his friend Lynda Marinello died on impact during a small plane crash on Chickamauga Lake in January 2019.

This week, Davey's widow Janet Davey, who has since moved to Alabama, donated around $1,000 in equipment to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office dive team that recovered her husband's body after the crash.

"I just wanted to make this donation as a thank you and hopefully as encouragement for the gentlemen that do this kind of work," she said during Wednesday's County Commission meeting. "I know I'm not going to be the last person, the last grieving family member, and I wanted [the dive team] to know that what they do is important.

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Frank Davey / Staff file photo

"The next time they face these kinds of conditions and they use this equipment, they'll remember that they are appreciated and I'm grateful," she added.

Davey's donation provided the seven-member team with a buoyancy control vest that will allow responders to move more stably under water, a safety knife and an additional air tank.

"This equipment is certainly greatly appreciated," Detective Ed Merritt said. "It will be used for hopefully years to come, and we would like to thank Mrs. Davey for her generosity."

The commissioners thanked the dive team for their response to the accident and Davey for her donation.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office awarded $2.2 million grant to help homeless, frequent users of justice system)

The donation was just one of the sheriff's office's items at the meeting as the office announced its acceptance of a $2.2 million grant for aiding in treatment of those struggling with mental illness and recidivism.

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This 2018 staff file photo shows an underwater remotely-operated vehicle that was used in the search for a missing pilot and his plane after a crash on Chickamauga Lake. / Staff photo by Ben Benton

According to Sheriff Jim Hammond, 35-40% of the occupants in the Hamilton County Jail have some form of mental illness, and this grant will help the county provide more appropriate care.

"We're starting with 50 and, now with this grant, it might be up to 100 people we're giving wraparound services to," Hammond told the commission of the federal grant. "It's going to have a number of impacts — on the police having to answer calls, on the hospitals and health services, on the taxpayers' dollars."

While Hammond expects some financial benefit to the county, he said the benefit on those incarcerated is what matters most.

"The bottom line for me is we're dealing with people's lives and giving them an opportunity where we don't have to worry about recidivism as much," Hammond added.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at 423-757-6416 or at staylor@timesfreepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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