“Bad Feeling” by State Senator, CAIR board member, kept him off doomed Flight

31 August 2006: Kentucky State Senator Larry Shaw, a member of CAIR’s National Board and a prominent member of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the annual Council on American Islamic Relations of Kentucky (CAIR-KY) banquet on Saturday, August 26 at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Due to schedule considerations, he was also supposed to be a passenger aboard Comair Flight 5191 on Sunday morning, a flight arranged by Shaw’s longtime friend, Dr. Ihsan A. Bagby. Dr. Bagby is a Muslim scholar and associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky, and the chairman of the Kentucky chapter of CAIR. According to Senator Shaw, his itinerary was set until the plot to blow up airliners was discovered in the UK on August 10. That discovery changed his mind against flying to that event.

According to an exclusive interview with The Carolinian and Wilmington Journal newspapers this week, Senator Shaw said he canceled out of the engagement this time because he sensed something was wrong. That premonition saved his life. In the worst plane disaster in the United States since November 2001, the commuter flight he would have taken Sunday morning crashed on takeoff, killing all 47 passengers, and two of the three crew members.

In a published interview, Shaw stated, “When this piece came down with the London terrorist plot, something just came over me, and said, ‘Leave this alone. Don’t fly, just leave this alone and sit for a while.” Senator Shaw said that he notified his friend about his change of heart. Asked by Dr. Bagby to reconsider, Shaw took time to think about it, but called his friend just days before the engagements saying, “Brother, I just can’t do this. I just don’t feel comfortable.”

Bagby learned of the airplane crash that day, looked at Shaw’s unused ticket and confirmed that he would have been on that flight. On behalf of CAIR-KY, Dr. Bagby issued a statement of “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims of Flight 5191.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating the crash, and are still searching for answers why the plane took off from the incorrect runway, in the crash that caused an explosion and fireball that killed all but one of its 50 occupants. The co-pilot was pulled from the wreckage, and continues to be listed in critical condition. It is still not known why the sole air traffic controller on duty that morning in the airport’s control tower didn’t realize the runway mix-up immediately and instruct the plane to abort its takeoff.