Retired Tulsa firefighter survives jet crash

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Updated: 3/19/2013 11:45 am Published: 3/18/2013 8:15 pm

A retired Tulsa firefighter is recovering from his first surgery from injuries received in a jet crash in South Bend, Indiana.

FOX23 News confirmed, a private jet took off from Tulsa's Riverside Airport Sunday afternoon crashed while trying to land at South Bend Regional airport, killing businessman Wes Caves and former OU quarterback Steve Davis. 

Jim Rodgers and his son-in-law Christopher Evans were also on on the jet and injured in the crash. Rodgers was with the Tulsa Fire Department for 27 years, before retiring in 2005.  He was also on the plane. 

FOX23 learned Rodgers will undergo surgery on Wednesday.  He has several broken bones and internal injures. Evans is reported to be in fair condition, he is also scheduled for surgery on Wednesday. 

Fire Station #32 is one of a number of stations, where Rodgers used to work. He’s a man who faced danger many times as he headed out to fires.

Fellow firefighters know the jet crash is his greatest challenge, but they call him a fighter.  

"Good firefighter,” said retired firefighter Hubert Rouse.

Rodgers was also known as strong firefighter.

"Captain Jim Rodgers was probably one of the finest captains I've ever known.  That's a good guy,” said Oklahoma Firefighter Association President Gerald Garrett.

Garrett calls him a good guy on and off the job.

"He always did the right thing. He was Christian guy, always stood up and did the right thing," said Garrett.

Rouse says he was a mentor for the younger firefighters.

"Good brother in the fire service, good Christian man, good example," said Rouse.  

On Monday, firefighters took a moment to pray.

"No one is promised tomorrow, but you hate it when a brother goes down that gave so much,” said Garrett.

"It's a little scary thinking one of your brothers dying," said Garrett.

After a first round of surgery on Monday night, Rodgers is expected to recover.

Firefighters say if anyone can survive, it’s Jim Rodgers. He may be retired but he’ll always be known as one tough firefighter.

"He is going to survive, I hope. We have faith that he will,” said Garrett.

Jim Rodgers' family, who went to South Bend to be with him, tell FOX23 news he’s expected to undergo more surgery this week. The family has asked for privacy and FOX23 is respecting their wishes. 

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