Updated: May 5, 2013 3:14PM
SOUTH BEND — A South Bend woman whose home was destroyed when a private jet crashed into it last month is trying to rebuild her life.
Diana McKeown, 62, is dealing with bills, insurance companies and emotional trauma, she said. A small jet crashed into her house March 17, killing former University of Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis and Tulsa, Okla., businessman Wes Caves.
McKeown was pulled by firefighters from the debris of her home. She lost everything except her purse and now lives in a hotel. McKeown is considering rebuilding her house, which she grew up in with her brothers, she said.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘Wow, she hit the lottery. You know, this airplane ran into her house so they’re going to have to settle and they’re going to have to make sure she has all this money and everything,’” McKeown said. “And anybody who feels that way, I’d be happy to exchange places with them.”
The city is still working with McKeown and her neighbors to help them with insurance companies and bills, said Mike Schmuhl, the South Bend mayor’s chief of staff.
McKeown says she has been coping with psychological trauma since the crash.
“I feel like I’m going through the stages of grief that you go through if someone close to you dies,” she said. “When I realized that everything in that house was gone ... it was my parent’s home, myself and my brothers all grew up there. And all of the memories.”
McKeown considers her survival a miracle. Shortly before the plane crash, McKeown had been praying in front of an image of Jesus when the phone rang. She normally wouldn’t interrupt her prayer to answer, but she walked into another room and took the call anyway.
“Then, there was this huge explosion and I mean everything ... the phone was gone and I was just, I just don’t know how long I was sitting in the chair really before I realized everything around me was gone,” she said. “All the insulation in the ceiling and everything was coming down on me and around me and I looked up and all I could see was blue sky.”
At first, she thought her furnace exploded. On the ambulance ride, medics told her a plane crashed into her house.
She said she’s still not sure how to move on.
“To tell somebody or say to somebody that you think they hit the lottery is tragic to me,” she said. “Because until you’ve been through it, you just can’t understand.”