'Always our pilot': Mom recounts giving birth on board Randy Sullivan's plane
Days after learning Ketchikan pilot Randy Sullivan passed away following a midair collision, friends are remembering the impact he had on their lives, including Jen Chinuhuk who gave birth on his plane 14 years ago.
"I was on the plane with a doctor at my feet, a doctor at my head and Randy over my shoulder," Chinuhuk said.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Chinuhuk recalled what happened Dec. 26, 2004. She was living in Metlakatla at the time and was still weeks away from her due date. She said she was planning on heading to the hospital, but went into labor sooner than expected. Sullivan was the pilot who showed up to fly her to the hospital.
"It's not the most ideal situation since you're in a small cramped Beaver de Havilland," she added.
It was during that flight her daughter Isabelle was born.
"I credit him for getting us over there safely, to the ultimate," said Chinuhuk. "He was my calming factor and I know he was busy, trying to be as calm as he could be because we were in medevac and I totally fed off of his calm vibe, his calm demeanor."
When Jen and her husband Jamie learned of Monday's accident, they were devastated, and so was their daughter Isabelle.
"It was a pretty hard pill to swallow and when I told Isabelle about it yesterday she cried and honestly had a really tough time with it," Chinukuk said. "Randy was a very important person to her because she doesn't like the fact that she was born on a plane, but she says 'I didn't have a doctor. I had a pilot.'"
"To us, he was always our pilot," she added.
A GoFundMe page has been created by a family friend of the Sullivans to help with memorial funds. As of Monday, May 20, $6,660 out of its $25,000 goal has been raised.
The NTSB's preliminary report on the collision is expected in about two weeks.