P. Allen Golson, chief executive officer for Coliseum Health System in Macon, was killed Friday when the twin-engine plane he was piloting crashed in central Florida.
Golson, 55, and his wife, Carol, were flying from Macon to Ocala, Fla., when their Cessna 340 went down in a field south of Ocala International Airport.
Carol Golson, 52, was injured in the crash and treated at a nearby hospital.
Earlier this month, Golson announced he was stepping down from the Macon hospital post upon being named CEO of Ocala Health System. He’d been Coliseum’s CEO for seven years. His last day at the Coliseum was to be Feb. 9.
A friend said the Golsons had traveled to Florida on Friday to look for a place to live.
The Star-Banner newspaper in Ocala reported that the crash happened about 12:30 p.m., about two hours after taking off from Middle Georgia Regional Airport. The newspaper said Golson’s plane caught on fire after crashing in a field near the Ocala airport.
The Star-Banner reported that Golson had not radioed air-traffic controllers about an emergency.
Rescuers “managed to get the woman out of the wreckage, but couldn’t get the man because of the volume of smoke,” the paper reported.
Speaking to Macon staffers at a hospital service awards banquet in downtown Thursday night, Golson praised his wife for her support and lauded fellow workers. The 200 or so employees on hand gave him a standing ovation.
“I’ve thought about it all day,” said Jan Beeland, hospital marketing director, who worked closely with Golson. “He said he would always remember all of us. ... It wasn’t a speech. It was from the heart.”
Dr. Larry Grant, Coliseum’s chief medical officer, said, “He told all the employees how much he appreciated them, how much he loved them.”
“He was in good spirits,” Grant said. “Then he came over, we shook hands, and I said, ‘I’m gonna miss you.’ He said, ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got to get packed. Carol and I are headed down to Ocala to look at real estate.’ ”
Grant said he had been flying with Golson on occasion in the single-engine Cessna that Golson used to own. An avid pilot, Golson not long ago traded up to a twin-engine, six-seat Cessna.
“He was meticulous,” Grant said. “I felt very comfortable. He put up with no nonsense once he got in the plane. And he loved (flying).”
Golson, whose first name was Paul, was originally from Prattville, Ala. He served in the Navy and later earned a business degree at the University of Alabama, where he met his wife.
The Golsons had been married 30 years. The couple had no children.
A devout University of Alabama football fan, Golson often wore Crimson Tide garb when he played golf. Golson lived in a neighborhood at Monroe County’s River Forest golf course, north of Forsyth.
“This is a tragic loss anytime you have something like this happen,” said Don Faulk, CEO of The Medical Center of Central Georgia. “It just hits a lot closer to home when it’s somebody you know and have worked with and competed against. ... He was a caring person.”
In a 2005 interview in The Telegraph, soon after he became CEO at Coliseum, Golson said, “I’ve always been driven to achieve the highest goal that I could. ... I can’t stand to be second.”
When he was at work, Golson said he liked being anywhere but his office. He preferred roaming the hospital, “being on the floors.”
One of Golson’s neighbors in Monroe County, Ron Rankin, said Golson had been looking forward to his new job in Florida.
“He and his wife were very much in love. We played golf with them last weekend. They were talking about their move to Ocala,” Rankin said.
“Allen was just a prince among men. He was a total gentleman. ... We’re just real upset about Carol. Hopefully she’ll be all right.”
Staff writer Linda Morris and Telegraph archives contributed to this report.