Reba McEntire is unable to control her tears.

Reba McEntire has first-hand knowledge of sadness and loss. The country music icon, her tour manager, and seven other band members perished in a horrifying plane crash in 1991.

The diva and her band performed a private concert in San Diego on March 16, 1991, and two planes were waiting at Brown Field Municipal Airport to fly the band members to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the next engagement on their schedule. The band members and tour manager left on a flight when McEntire, her then-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist Sandi Spika spent the night in San Diego.

McEntire would go on to recount what transpired next in a heartbreaking interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012. Just 10 miles east of the airport, the first airplane to depart met with disaster, while the second one took off and arrived at its destination without incident.

According to McEntire, the wing tip of the aircraft hit a boulder on the edge of Otay Mountain, killing everyone on board. “After we were notified, Narvel went to speak with our pilot and explained what had happened. Narvel came back to the hotel room where I was staying around two or three in the morning to tell me that one of the planes had crashed. Are they alright? I asked them right away. He replied, “I don’t think so. I questioned, “But you’re not certain.” He answered, “I don’t think so.

As McEntire said, they scrambled to find out information about the disaster.

As tears brimmed her eyes, she paused before continuing, “Narvel was going room to room with a phone and calling…” I’m sorry, but I don’t think it ever stops hurting, she added, even after 20 years. Yet I can picture that room. I can see Narvel shifting back and forth.

Friends like Vince Gill and Dolly Parton offered McEntire the chance to wrap up her tour with their own bands, but she declined. She dedicated the record she released after losing her bandmates to them, For My Broken Heart. It sold four million sales after debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums list.

McEntire regularly honors individuals who died on that day on the anniversary of the catastrophe. She used Instagram to mark the crash anniversary in 2014, and in 2016, she made a special journey to San Diego and shared it with her online audience on the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

According to McEntire, today marks the anniversary of the plane crash. In November of last year, I came back to San Diego and flew over the crash site. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are aware of how much we still miss them. I send my thoughts and prayers to all the families and friends.

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