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Two killed in local plane crash

A Florida surgeon and his wife were killed Saturday morning whentheir twin engine airplane crashed at the Brookhaven MunicipalAirport, authorities said.

Dr. James “Jimmy” C. Barnett, 49, and his wife, Margaret”Missy”, 50, both of Winter Park, Fla., and formerly of Brookhaven,were killed instantly when their plane nose dived and caught firejust before reaching the landing strip at approximately 10:25 a.m.Saturday, said Lincoln County Coroner-Medical Examiner MorrisHenderson.

Although the cause of the crash is being investigated by theFederal Aviation Administration, several witness saw the plane godown.

Witnesses included Barnett’s father, Dr. Jim Barnett, aMississippi legislator; brother Paul, and a nephew, who werewaiting to meet them for lunch, said authorities.

“They (the couple) had left from Florida around 9 a.m.,” saidHenderson, adding that the younger Barnett had been the toporthopedic surgeon for the Orlando Magic basketball team since1989.

The couple’s plane, which the younger Barnett was flying, wasapproaching the east end of the landing strip when the planeapparently stalled during the turn, witnesses said.

The plane nose dived to an area between the landing strip andHeuck’s Retreat Road, which is only a few hundred yards from thelanding strip.

“It fell and burned right short of the runway,” saidHenderson.

Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte said a low ceiling and mistyconditions were reported at the airport Saturday morning.

Heuck’s Retreat and New Sight Volunteer Fire Departments, alongwith the Brookhaven Fire Department, extinguished the fire. Unitsfrom Brookhaven Police Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’sDepartment, King’s Daughters Medical Center, American Red Cross andMississippi Highway Patrol also responded to the scene.

The Barnetts had planned to eat lunch with his parents, then flyto Tupelo to visit her relatives and later attend the University ofMississippi football game in Oxford Saturday night, Hendersonsaid.

Jimmy and Missy Barnett had been been married for a long timeand had dated in high school, said family members.

“They were high school sweethearts,” said the elder Barnett’swife, Roberta. “They did everything together.”

The Barnetts received several awards at Brookhaven High School,where they graduated from in 1968. He was Mr. Brookhaven HighSchool, most popular, senior class president and a most handsome,while she was selected as a most beautiful and was involved inseveral clubs.

She graduated first in her class from Mississippi College and heplayed football at Millsaps College.

She was the daughter of Jeri Ramsay of Tupelo and the late Dr.Bob Ramsay, who was a longtime pastor of First Baptist Church inBrookhaven.

She became a homemaker when the couple’s two daughters, Ashley,21, and Catherine, 18, were born, said family members.

“Her life was Jimmy Barnett and her children,” said RobertaBarnett.

The younger Barnett was an experienced aviator, who had beenflying for decades. He was a surgeon at Jewett Orthopedic Clinic inWinter Park, Fla.

Autopsies will be performed Sunday in Pearl. Funeralarrangements are incomplete.