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Plane crash survivors return to U.S.
Jackson County couple has suffered pain; husband facing surgery today
David, left, and Carolina Bellino were involved in a plane crash Aug. 16 on an island off the coast of Colombia. The couple suffered the same vertebrae fractures. David will undergo more surgery today in Miami.

A Jackson County couple who survived an August plane crash on a small island off the Colombian coast is now in Miami, where the husband is scheduled for another surgery today.

“He lost about an inch in his height and he’s been in a tremendous amount of pain since (an earlier) surgery,” said Tim Tipton, pastor of administration at the couple’s South Hall church, Chestnut Mountain Church.

“It has to do with the screws and all that have been put in (his body).”

David and Carolina Bellino were among about 130 people who survived as the Boeing 737 jetliner crashed while preparing to land Aug. 16 in a storm on San Andres.

A 68-year-old woman, who was believed to have had a heart attack, died in the crash.

The Bellinos, suffering the same vertebrae fractures in the crash, spent some time in a hospital in Bogota, Colombia’s capital.

“David said he is hurting in places he didn’t realize a body can hurt,” Tipton said, “but with his back broken in two places and three broken ribs, that’s expected.”

Initially, David Bellino lost feeling in his legs.

And Carolina Bellino, who was about seven weeks pregnant at the time of the crash, also has endured “a tremendous amount of pain.”

“The baby is still fine,” Tipton added.

The Bellinos, who shared their frightening ordeal on national TV newscasts, are “thankful they’re not in a body cast,” he said.

Today’s procedure will involve a bone graft, using bone from a cadaver and David Bellino’s hip, Tipton said.

Doctors have assured David Bellino “he would eventually get his height back,” he said.

A church staff member left last week for Miami with David Bellino’s son, whom he hasn’t seen since the plane crash, and was scheduled to return Tuesday.

Tipton said he wasn’t sure how the Bellinos were connected to Miami — they don’t have family there, as far he knows — and he wasn’t sure when they’d return home.

In the meantime, “we’ve had folks go to their house, mowing their yard, keeping their animals fed (and) picking up mail,” he said.