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Angels in the skies help Floridians evacuate ahead of Irma

Posted at 6:34 PM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-09 04:47:09-04

Before 9 a.m. Friday, Kerry Bentley arrived at Skyport Aviation in Tampa.

His wings were impossible for the Lutes family to miss, especially mom.

"He's sparing my daughter a lot more trauma," said Josette Lutes through tears.

For the last few days Josette has been trying to find a way to escape Tampa ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Her youngest daughter, 5-year-old Lila, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disordere.  It's carry over from years of abuse before the Lutes formally adopted her in December.

"It's really hard knowing she struggled so much so I just do what I can to make it that she doesn't have more stress or more trauma," Josette said.

Threats of a looming hurricane would simply be too much for Lila to bear.

"For her to stay here during the storm and be trapped in the house for two days with wind, rain and hail and all those things that are going to happen, it’s just too much for her," mom said. 

With flights cancelled and roads bottlenecked, yesterday Josette made a desperate call for help.

"I called angel flight and they were just so quick and helpful," she said.

It took less than 24 hours for help to arrive in the form of Kerry Bentley, a semi-retired government contractor who volunteers his time as a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight Southeast. 

Angel Flight Southeast is a network of 650-700 volunteer pilots who typically transport passengers with medical needs, using their own planes and resources.  Hurricane Irma has already forced angle flight missions in and out of the Caribbean and a number of evacuations in Florida.

"I'm just trying to help people out" said Bentley. "That's what its all about," he said.  Bentley, who flew from Jacksonville this morning to pick up the Lutes in Tampa put his own hurricane preparations on hold to help.

"This is kind of just what we do," he said.

For the Lutes, today's flight will take them to Tallahassee.  They're scheduled to board a flight from Tallahassee to San Diego where Josette and her three daughters will stay with family.

The flight to Tallahassee will take just about an hour, cost the family not a penny but mean the world to a little girl who's already seen the worst of life and is now getting her first view from the skies thanks to an angel willing to take her there.

Angel Flight Southeast is party of the air charity network.  For more information, click here.

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Scripps National Desk
1:29 PM, Dec 17, 2018

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