UPDATE: Pilot in Sedona crash dies, widow talks to 3TV

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UPDATE 12/29:

Pilot's widow opens up to 3TV

PHOENIX - An Arizona pilot who survived a plane crash near Sedona has died after spending weeks fighting for his life.

His widow as you can imagine is heartbroken. Rockney Herring surpassed several milestones on his road to recovery from the crash that killed his two uncles.

Doctors had recently cut back on the drugs and his use of a ventilator. In fact, all signs were good until Sunday.

You can hear the voice of Herring in a 911 call, one of three men on board the plane and the only one who crawled out alive.

Theresa Herring, Rockney's wife, tells 3TV, "We stood and stood and stood and after a while reality started setting in."

It wasn't long before the women realized their husbands were not coming. A picture was taken of the group just two days before the accident. Brothers Michael and Tommy Johnson were killed in the crash but Herring survived.

His wife tells 3TV, "By the time I was able to see him he looked like a mummy."

Herring suffered second and third-degree burns over 50% of his body but six weeks later things were improving. Rockney was coming out of the coma and communicating just in time for Christmas. His wife explains, "On the 23rd he actually mouthed the words I love you. I felt like the 16-year-old I was the very first time he said I love you. My heart skipped a beat."

It was the perfect way to celebrate the holidays. After days of reading his lips Theresa was all set to hear Rockney's voice. Sunday he told the doctor to elevate him or to basically to sit him up but before Theresa could walk through the door doctors believe Rockney died from a blood clot.

Theresa says, "I just bent over and kissed him and I said I'll see you soon."

From the beginning Theresa worried about survivor's guilt and said, "I could lose him and live with it better than have him live with that the rest of his life. So now I've just got to be able to do it."

Theresa says her family takes comfort in hearing the 911 tapes, tapes she says show the courage, faith and love that filled her husband's life.

To visit Rocky Herring's website, .


According to Sedona Fire spokesman Gary Johnson there were reportedly three people aboard the aircraft, not four as originally thought.

The pilot has been identified as Rockney Herring of Texas. He was able to free himself from the wreckage, but was badly burned in the fire caused by the crash.

The two passengers who died were Michael Johnson, 66, of Phoenix and Tommy Johnson, 44, of Koutze, Texas.

The pilot and the passengers are all related.

According to authorities, the plane was a 1967 Piper Cherokee. The plane flew out of an air strip located in Buckeye. The aircraft is registered to an Orange, Texas charitable corporation used for air ambulance and medical transport needs.

Around 4:15 p.m. Herring called family members to say they were on the ground in Sedona preparing to take off and fly back to the Phoenix area.

During the rescue Herring told DPS the plane has lost power for an unknown reason.

Rescue crews reportedly had a hard time accessing the wreckage. The plane burst into flames in the wooded area, lighting the surrounding area on fire.

Fire fighters were able to contain the fire and put it out.

Authorities used 4-wheelers to get to the scene at first.

The crash happened approximately eight miles east of the Sedona Airport at around 4:45 p.m.

Investigators are still investigating the cause of the crash.