For the past year, the first image that pops into Robert Davidson’s mind as he wakes every morning has been that of his beloved late wife, Kim.
Kim Davidson, the mother of two daughters, a devout member of Republican Baptist Church and an avid fan of the outdoors, was one of five Vein Guys staff members on board a corporate jet returning from Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 20, 2013 when it crashed near Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport.
The pilots aborted the landing and the Beechcraft 390 went airborne off the runway and hit a concrete utility pole before crashing in nearby woods.
Davidson and the other four passengers – Vein Guys co-founder Dr. Steven Roth, Heidi McCorkle, Lisa Volpitto and Tiffany Porter – were killed. The two pilots were injured but survived.
Davidson had been an administrative assistant to Roth for seven years. Her husband said he finds comfort in her being a part of his life for 25 years and seeing her strength shine through their two daughters, Bailey, 16, and Tannah, 12.
“They’re strong, but they got that 100 percent from their mom,” he said. “Of course, they were very, very close. We all were. She was a special person.”
Davidson recalled the outpouring of love from the community a year ago at his wife’s funeral, when 1,000 people came to pay their respect to the Augusta native.
He said his wife had a giving heart and a sarcastic sense of humor. They would have celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary Dec. 15.
“We can think about her and smile a little bit now because you can think about her funny ways and her good times,” he said. “Kim spoke her mind, but in a way that you respected her. She told you how she felt. She didn’t hide anything, but you knew on the inside how good her heart was. She was just a good person.”
Her sister, Julie Johnson, echoed those sentiments.
“She was such a good and kind person, with a beautiful spirit,” Johnson said by e-mail. “I see her so vividly in her children, and I have no doubt that her legacy will live on through them. While our family continues to heal from this tragedy, our hearts are forever broken.”
Davidson said the family carries the loss with them.
“It’s been something we’re just dealing with every day trying to put the pieces together that you can’t,” he said. “It’s just been a hard year for everyone. We’ve had to go through all the first birthdays, and anniversaries and Christmas. Christmas was especially hard.”
Roth started Vein Guys, formally named the Vein Care Pavilion of the South, in Evans a decade ago with Dr. Keith Davis, a plastic surgeon who died in 2010. Roth helped the practice grow with offices across three other Southeastern cities: Atlanta, Nashville and Raleigh, N.C., which has since closed, according to the company’s Web site.
McCorkle, a senior ultrasound technician, and Volpitto, a certified nurse anesthetist, had been working at the facility for seven years. Porter had just started training with the Vein Guys as an ultrasound technologist.
Vein Guys Chief Operations Officer Kelly Vann said the practice couldn’t talk with The Augusta Chronicle because of ongoing litigation. There are seven suits pending in Fulton County, Ga., said local personal injury lawyer David Bell, who is representing McCorkle’s estate.
Four wrongful-death claims were filed by the estates of McCorkle, Porter, Davidson and Volpitto in Fulton County Superior Court last September, while pilots Richard Trammell, Jeremy Hayden and Roth’s estate have filed suits in Fulton County State Court.
Among the defendants named in the Superior Court suits are the airport’s operators; the airport authority; the city of Thomson; McDuffie County; Georgia Power Co.; Southern Company Services; the owner of the Kingsley Plant at the end of the runway; and Trammell’s air charter company, Executive Shuttle.
Three of the four suits, excluding Volpitto’s estate, also list Roth’s estate, the Pavilion Group, and the pilots as defendants, according to court documents.
The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the accident and has released few details. In April, investigators recovered a recording device “of good quality” that captured the accident sequence, spokesman Terry Williams said.
The case could take another month before being wrapped up, said Williams, adding that it’s normal for investigations to last at least a year.
For Davidson, patience in the investigation prevails.
“I really don’t get involved in all of that, honestly,” he said. “My full concentration is on these girls. Whatever happens there is going to happen. There’s nothing I can do. Nothing that happens in the investigation or anything afterwards is going to bring Kim back to us.”