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Dental community mourns after plane crash kills 4 dentists, their spouses

August 15, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Tuscaloosa County, Alabama — The Mississippi dental community is mourning the loss of four dentists and their spouses in an Aug. 14 plane crash.

Drs. Jason and Lea Farese, Dr. Michael Perry and wife, Kim, and Dr. Austin Poole and wife, Angie, were returning from a Florida meeting to their homes in northeast Mississippi when the private plane they were in experienced engine trouble, according to the Mississippi Dental Association. Dr. Jason Farese, a pilot, attempted an emergency landing in Tuscaloosa when the plane crashed into trees before reaching the runway, the state dental association said.

The Federal Aviation Association said in a statement the crash occurred at 11:20 a.m. Aug. 14 and that it is assisting the National Transportation Safety Board in investigating the crash.

The three couples are survived by at least 11 children, the Mississippi Association said.

“It’s just a great loss,” said Dr. Francis G. Serio, former chair of periodontics and preventive science at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry, who said he taught all the dentists involved in the crash. “A lot of folks are hurting over this.”

The Fareses, who operated Farese Family Dental in Oxford, Miss., met while both were students, said Dr. Serio.

Dr. Perry and his wife, Kim, were high school sweethearts, Dr. Serio said, adding that they “were great together” like “peas and carrots.”

Dr. Perry, a periodontist, went on mission trips to the Dominican Republic in 2015 and earlier this year along with two of his children who are grade-school-aged, Sarah and John West.

“He worked very hard but was not afraid to give back,” said. Dr. Serio, adding that Dr. Perry helped fund a public baseball/soccer complex in his hometown.
Dr. Poole operated a dental practice in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He and wife Angie had five children, according to a local Mississippi newspaper, the Oxford Eagle.

Kind words about the dentists and their families flooded news reports and social media following the crash.

Dr. Mark Williams, president of the Mississippi Dental Association, said the outpouring of support from fellow dentists “has been truly inspiring.”

On behalf of the Mississippi Dental Association, Dr. Williams said it “will work with the families and the practices to assist in any way possible.  Our commitment and dedication to the staff members and families will be evident in the days to come.”

Dr. Williams added that he is “heartbroken for the children who lost parents,” adding that he recognizes the loss staff members in the dentists’ respective offices are facing, too.

“Our dental offices often share a sense of family that binds us together and allows us to function like a family. The grief they feel must be overwhelming. Also, there are many patients that have lost their dentist and, in many cases, their friend. Words are not able to convey the devastating loss for so many,” Dr. Williams said.

Dr. David Felton, dean of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, also released a statement.

“On behalf of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the UM School of Dentistry, our deepest condolences go out to the children and families of the couples lost in this heart-breaking tragedy,” Dr. Felton said. “Everyone on that plane were active members of Mississippi’s tight-knit dental community and our dental school alumni family, and will be sorely missed.”