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Reba McEntire Honors Band Members 33 Years After Fatal Plane Crash, “Rest in Peace, My Friends”

Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire remembered her former bandmates and tour manager on the anniversary of the fatal plane crash that took their lives. 

On March 16th, the country star made a heartfelt post on X that shared the eight names of those who were on the plane that day—Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Jim Hammon, Terry Jackson, Tony Saputo, and Michael Thomas. 

“33 years today since Heaven gained some great angels. Rest in peace, my friends,” she captioned. “… I guess the world ain’t gonna stop … for my broken heart.” 

The crash happened around 1:45 am on March 16, 1991. Reba and her band had just played a private show for IBM executives in San Diego, and they needed to fly to Indiana for a concert later that day. According to Biography, Reba was struggling with bronchitis, so she and her then-husband, Narvel Blackstock, decided to stay the night in San Diego. The rest of the band wanted to get to their destination earlier, so they took a separate plane. 

Reba McEntire Dedicated Her Album “For My Broken Heart” to Her Late Bandmates

Reba McEntire’s private pilot, Roger Woolsey, drove the band to the airport that night. As he was leaving, he saw “this huge ball of fire” in his rearview mirror. When he returned to the hotel around 2 am, he called Reba’s room and asked Narvel to come to speak with him immediately. 

“The tip of the wing of the airplane hit a rock on the side of Otay Mountain, and it killed everyone on the plane,” Reba recalled during a 2012 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“When we were notified, Narvel went and met with our pilot, and he told us what had happened. And Narvel came back to the hotel room where I was — it was two or three o’clock in the morning — and he said one of the planes had crashed, and I said, ‘Are they OK?’ He said, ‘I don’t think so.’ I said, ‘But you’re not sure?’ He said, ‘I don’t think so.'”

Reba said that amid her disbelief, she thought the phone would ring, and someone on the other line would tell her that everyone was okay. but “that call never came.”

Dolly Parton and Vince Gill offered to let Reba McEntire use their bands to finish her tour, but Reba decided to cancel the remaining shows. She went on to channel her grief into her next album, For My Broken Heart, which became a no.1 charting record. 

This story’s featured image in by Jason Kempin/Getty Images.

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