'Everything Kind of Just Disappeared Around Me'

By Marc Massery

On St. Patrick’s Day Sunday, March 17, 2013, the sky gleamed the most beautiful shade of blue over South Bend, Indiana. Little did Diana McKeown know that on that day, her world would quite actually come crashing down around her. 

Thankfully, her fervent devotion to Divine Mercy and trust in Jesus delivered her safely through one of the more bizarre disasters in recent United States history. 

Diana discovered the message of Divine Mercy in 2011 after a close friend of hers died. “I didn’t know what to do. I was in pieces,” she said. So, she called her pastor who advised her to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. 

Though Diana had been Catholic her whole life, until then she hadn’t heard about Divine Mercy or known how to pray the Chaplet. “As I got through the prayer, I felt more peace and more calm and more devotion than I had ever felt,” Diana said. “From that point on, I was absolutely devoted to Divine Mercy.”

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So devoted, in fact, that every day she has worn a red, a white, and a blue bracelet — each with the words, “Jesus I trust in You” on them.  

“I have never taken them off,” she said. 

On that beautiful St. Patrick’s Day in South Bend, late in the afternoon, Diana finished praying the Chaplet in her home, which had been in her family since 1951. 

“I finished, and the next thing I knew, everything kind of just disappeared around me,” she said.

A 5-ton jet, a Hawker Beechcraft 393, traveling from Riverside Airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to South Bend Regional Airport, had crashed directly into her house, clipping two neighboring homes. Diana said that the jet took her house off the foundation, causing almost everything to cave into the basement.  

“One of the things that demonstrated the omnipotence of God and His plan is that years ago, my parents had a front put on the house, and it was a separate slab,” she said. “When the jet hit the house, the only thing left was that slab and part of the wall standing.” 

Diana just so happened to be in that front room when the plane hit. 

During those moments after impact, Diana said she felt as though she were suspended, as if, as she described it, “in a state of eternity.”

“Everything was kind of in slow motion [as] the walls fell in,” she said. “I didn’t know where I was in the house, because everything was dark. The interesting thing is, it wasn’t really traumatic. I felt an extreme amount of peace, since I felt that I was in God’s arms. I wasn’t afraid. I knew I was going to be OK, even as I watched the house fall in around me.” 

Though Diana survived the direct hit, she was trapped between the rubble and her front door until firemen could break through and rescue her. “They were in a panic; they were afraid there was going to be an explosion because there was jet fuel everywhere,” she said. 

Diana didn’t find out what had happened until she was ushered away in an ambulance. “I thought maybe a tornado came through, and I hadn’t heard it or the furnace exploded,” she said.

Two of the four people in the plane died.

As for Diana, they rushed her to the trauma area of the hospital only to discover that she sustained no injuries. “No broken bones, nothing. I was perfectly fine. The doctors were looking and staring at each other,” she said. (And even while she was in the emergency room, she didn’t allow anyone to take off her Divine Mercy bracelets).  

It wasn’t only a miracle for Diana, but for the neighborhood as well. “Because [even though] the Beechcraft had crashed, all of the electric lines were live, all the gas lines were live, there was no fire, no explosion,” she said. 

Tragically, the owner of the plane, Wes Caves, and his friend Steve Davis, who were piloting the aircraft, both died. The two other passengers in the plane were injured but ultimately survived. 

“When you read the transcript of the cockpit report, it really kind of just shocked me because you can hear the conversation going on between [Caves and Davis] on the landing approach. When they got ready to land, you hear the owner go, ‘Uh-oh,’ and [Davis said,] ‘What?’ and [Caves responded,] ‘You just shut the jet down.’”

Davis, who was learning the controls from Caves, had moved the plane’s controls in a way that caused the engines and the electrical power in the plane to shut down. 

“They didn’t have enough altitude to get the engine started [again],” Diana said. “The airport wanted them to belly the plane, and they wouldn’t do it. Somehow or other they got one of the engines started, but it caused the jet to go into a climb, then a corkscrew, and [into a] stall. Evidently, that’s how it got to the houses.”

Though Diana was grateful to have her life spared, she lost everything she had owned in that house, which was all but completely destroyed. “When I lost the house, I lost everything,” she said. “The insurance company wanted me to rebuild on the lot, but I couldn’t do it because I felt like it was a cemetery to me.”

That house was where she grew up with her parents and brothers — and where she had cared for her father until he died in 2009. “Every time I went to the lot, I would end up in tears, because I would ‘see’ my parents,” she said. “I lost everything that belonged to my parents, everything that belonged to my children and my grandchildren. Everything as a family had been in that house, and it all went away.”

After the crash, Diana said it took a while for life to get back to normal. “I went through a great deal of different emotions, but everything was centered around my faith,” she said. 

She said, “It really got my faith to a point where I came to understand that  … everything belongs to [God]. He gives and He takes, sometimes He gives back. I lost literally everything I had. I didn’t even have clothes or anything in the hospital. [But] His plan, not our plan. His plan and His timing.”

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