Local businesses chipping in to help first responders working plane crash site

Published: May. 4, 2018 at 8:06 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2018 at 8:21 PM EDT
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PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Local crews have been at the site of the tragic plane crash on Georgia Highway 21 night and day, offering support to the military investigation.

Local businesses are also chipping in to do whatever they can to help.

They say it takes a village, and for a 30-man police department in Port Wentworth, first responders from all around the area came at their call. Now, the community is answering the call as well.

The Salvation Army has been on site since the beginning.

"We've had an outpouring of community help since the event happened," said Linda James, Salvation Army. "We've had restaurants, stores, you name it, that have provided and donated most of the items we are able to serve."

One of those eager to help out is the team at Texas Roadhouse in Pooler. They said it all started with a phone call.

"One hundred percent. It was a really simple phone call just trying to figure out how we can get some food to people to get them something to eat," said Steve Thomas, Co-owner, Texas Roadhouse. "Within minutes of that talk, a phone call was made. We had hundreds of dollars lined up to help support the tragedy from local businesses in Pooler. It was an amazing response."

"One phone call made to me and I made a phone call over to the chamber office. She sent out an e-mail and from there, my phone started ringing, e-mails starting coming in. Support from the community has just been great," said Maurice Jackson, Texas Roadhouse, Pooler.

They aren't the only ones. Many businesses are reacting and sending what they can. The Salvation Army says they need more to help the men and women who are investigating the crash site.

"You know, being this close to the actual crash site, it's pretty somber at some points, because you really start thinking about what happened, but the need to serve people is what we do at the Salvation Army, whether it's giving a bottle of water or feeding them or offering encouraging prayer or spiritual or emotional support," Jackson said.

We spoke with the owner of a Latin restaurant in Pooler, who tells us he remembers one of the airmen well. He says Senior Master Sergeant Jan Paravisini would stop in from time to time for a taste of home.

"He was like, 'man, I'm glad I found this place while I'm here for the next couple of months, I'm going to come back and eat,' said Chaz Ortiz, Owner of Chazito's. "I treated him to some authentic dishes and I thanked him for what he did, and it was like, 'I'll see you again.' That never happened. That's what's really, really tough."

The Port Wentworth Command Center has been taken down, but the scene continues to be a military investigation site.

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