Jet crashes, kills 49

LEXINGTON, KY – A former Kentucky baseball player who played in the minor leagues was among the 49 people killed when a commuter jet crashed during take off yesterday at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky.

Jon Hooker and Scarlett Parsley were on the Atlanta-bound flight, heading to their honeymoon in California after they were married Saturday night at Headley-Whitley Museum, former Kentucky baseball coach Keith Madison said.

“It’s so tragic because he was so happy last night,” said Madison, who was at the wedding attended by about 300 friends and family.

“It’s just an incredible turn of events. It’s really painful.”

The 27-year-old Hooker played at Kentucky with future major leaguers Brandon Webb and Andy Green of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Joe Blanton of the Oakland Athletics. Webb declined to comment yesterday on Hooker’s death.

There was a moment of silence for those who died in the crash before the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game in Phoenix.

Hooker pitched for the Wildcats from 1998-01, posting a 5-5 career record with a 3.23 ERA during his senior year in 2001.

He signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago White Sox in 2001 and played professionally for Independent League teams in Fargo, N.D., and Joliet, Ill., before returning to his hometown.

Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks general manager Josh Buchholz said yesterday was “a sad day for Fargo.” Hooker helped the Redhawks win the Independent League championship in 2003.

“He touched a lot of people’s lives,” Buchholz said.

Hooker, of London, Ky., was working as a parole counselor and social worker while Parsley was in graduate school at Kentucky, Madison said. She was a former cheerleader at Centre College in Danville and a coach of a local swimming team.

Jarod Martin, a longtime friend of Parsley’s, started the Laurel County Barracudas with her in 2001.

“The swim team was a big part of her life,” Martin said. “We were getting ready to get an aquatic center. We’re going to see if we can have the pool named after her.”