Norfolk Botanical Garden reopens after plane crash kills 3

Photo courtesy Debbie Childs

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) – For the first time Friday, members of the media got to see the 155-acre Enchanted Forest at Norfolk’s Botanical Garden, where a small plane crashed Wednesday morning.

Piles of logs cover part of the garden. Tracks left from the recovery trucks are there, too. You can also see the tree limbs cut down by the plane. It’s all a somber reminder of what happened on that piece of land.

Michael Buxton, William M. Shaver, and Ted Reinhardt all died there.

Thursday, Michael Buxton’s long-time companion spoke to 10 On Your Side and shared pictures of the crash site before the plane was removed Thursday.

“I took the pictures so that I would have a reality check. Whenever I start to feel it wasn’t real … I look at the pictures … because I still haven’t been able to grasp it. I still can’t believe he is gone,” Debbie Childs said.

From the garden, the small plane was taken to a Landmark Aviation hanger at Norfolk International Airport. Friday mornng it was taken to Delaware for storage.

10 On Your Side asked Norfolk spokeswoman Lori Crouch what would happen to the crash site.

“It is premature to consider erecting a memorial just three days after the crash and without any discussion with the families,” she said. “We certainly understand if patrons feel compelled to leave flowers at the site. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families and friends of the three men who died. The Garden truly represents a place of peace and serenity, which we hope the patrons find comfort from now having reopened following this tragic event.”

Although he wouldn’t talk on camera, Botanical Garden CEO Michael Desplaines told 10 n Your Side:

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my staff, first responders and officials for their efforts in what was surely one of the most difficult days we’ve had here at the garden. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the three men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. 

We are now open to offer our garden, once again, as a place of beauty, reflection, and healing. Hug your families tonight, call your loved ones, and be kind to a stranger. Life is indeed too short.

NTSB investigators have completed the on-site part of their investigation. Expect a preliminary report next week, but a full one could take up to a year.

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