Clearwater plane crash victim stayed in mobile home to help clean up, husband says

As soon as Bobby Dixon heard about a small plane that crashed Thursday night at the Bayside Waters mobile home park in Clearwater, he knew he had to go there.

His wife, Mary Ellen Pender, had visited the 55-and-older community that day after playing golf with nine other friends. She hadn’t come home and Dixon knew she always stayed late helping her friend Martha Parry with the housework. So Dixon and a friend got into a car.

When Dixon arrived at the mobile home park, a police officer stopped him from getting any closer to the accident. Dixon waited.

Eventually, police came with photos of jewelry worn by one of the victims.

Dixon recognized it. He then knew his wife of 54 years was gone.

“I’ve been numb for two days,” he said Saturday.

Dixon insisted on seeing where Pender had died. The police took him to the demolished mobile home. He knew from the devastation that his wife had not suffered.

Clearwater officials confirmed Saturday that Pender and Parry, 86, were killed in the crash, as was pilot Jemin Patel, 54, of Melbourne Beach.

Pender and Dixon, 64, met years ago through a mutual friend. While they had been together for 26 years, they only married eight years ago, he said.

Pender was a retired emergency room nurse from Queens who enjoyed traveling, including to Ireland to visit her cousins.

Dixon did not hesitate to describe his wife’s character. “She had a big laugh,” he said. “And she had a big, loud mouth.”

The couple were snowbirds enjoying their Treasure Island home in the winter and Connecticut in the summer. Pender loved being on the water, Dixon said.

“Mary Ellen was full of life,” he said. “The chances of this happening to him were one in a trillion.” »

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