Family of Cambria County plane crash victims speak out

Brady Walker lead his football team to a win this past Saturday, but he didn't know until after the game that his aunt, uncle and two cousins were in a plane crash. (WJAC)

MONROEVILLE, Pa. -- It's been four days since a plane crash in Cambria Township left a family of four in the hospital.

The FAA still has not released any information about what caused the crash one mile north of Ebensburg Ariport.

Wednesday night, only one of them is still in the hospital, but all have bumps and bruises that need to heal.

The Zollinger family, pilot Doug, his wife Dawn, along with their kids Zach and Mariah were all headed to Altoona to see Brady Walker play football in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinal game.

Under the lights at Gateway High School in Monroeville, the football team is prepping for a state semifinal playoff game Friday.

"It's the first ever in Gateway history," senior quarterback Brady Walker said.

Walker lead the team to a win Saturday over Holidaysburg, but what he didn't know until after the game, was that his aunt, uncle and two cousins didn't make it to the stands like they planned.

Dispatcher: “You were coming in to land at Ebensburg Airport?”
Mariah: “Yeah…I have a cousin that had a football game in Altoona.”

According to the 911 recording, Walker's uncle Doug crashed his plane after engine failure.

Brady's mom, Ellen Walker, said at the end of the game her husband got a phone call from Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, telling him the news of the crash. Walker says her husband fell to his knees.

"You don't hear about plane crashes too much and it was my family members and it's just so sad to think about that could happen, but (I'm) extremely happy that they're alive and they're doing well,” Walker said. “I wouldn't say they're doing great, but they're doing better."

Ellen Walker, Doug's sister-in-law, says Mariah, Zach and Doug were released from the hospital on Monday.

Doug's wife, Dawn, is still at Conemaugh, recovering from multiple broken bones and cracked ribs.

"Someone was watching,” Brady Walker said. “Someone was watching from up in the sky and it's a blessing that they're alive."

The Zollinger family, who lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been cheering on Brady for weeks.

Ellen Walker said the family traveled to Branson, Missouri, for a Christmas show and then stopped in Indiana for fuel on their way to Ebensburg.

"My whole family's supportive, especially them,” Brady Walker said. They've been flying in for four games now, since the playoffs started, coming to watch me, and it's just been an every week thing and this week it was just an unfortunate event."

Ellen Walker said the first question she got when she saw the Zollingers in the hospital was ‘Did Brady win?’

Friday, Walker hopes for another win and he'll be playing for his family.

"I always play for my family, but they're going to be deep down in my heart because of that tragic event and just play for them and get the win for them," he said.

Ellen Walker says Dawn will be in Johnstown for a little longer while she goes through physical therapy at the hospital.

She said she visited the crash site over the weekend and the family’s suitcases and cellphones were still intact.

She says Doug is an experienced pilot who has been flying for a long time.

The FAA inspector told her he has never seen anyone come out of a crash like this.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off