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'Southwest angel' goes above the call of duty

by Lindsey Wells | May 5, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

The family of a Hot Springs man who was killed in a car wreck Tuesday on Highway 70 east has stepped forward to tell the story of their "Southwest angel," an airline representative who went above and beyond the call of duty to help the family during and after the tragedy.

Charles Gold, 79, was driving back to Hot Springs from Little Rock after dropping his wife, Charlotte, off at the airport when he reportedly veered across the center turn lane, collided with an International truck and was then struck by a pickup truck.

At the time of the accident, Gold's wife was boarding an airplane to Phoenix.

Susan Campbell, Gold's sister-in-law, said Gold was traveling with his dog, Ollie. A motorist who witnessed the wreck called the phone number on the tag attached to the dog's collar and was able to reach Gold's daughter in Chicago, who then called Southwest Airlines in Little Rock in an attempt to stop her mother from boarding the airplane.

The airplane was preparing for takeoff but had not yet departed.

Campbell said Gwen Haniff, station manager in Little Rock for Southwest Airlines, was informed of the situation and met Charlotte Gold at the gate, told her what had occurred, and took it upon herself to see she was taken care of from that point forward.

"It just so happened that Gwen had met Charlotte when she was boarding the plane, so she knew who she was and they got Charlotte off the plane," Campbell said. "She told her, 'Your husband was in a terrible accident, they're airlifting him to UAMS, and I'm going to take you there.' And she stayed with her the entire time."

Due to a miscommunication, Gold was airlifted to the emergency room at CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs instead of UAMS. He was pronounced dead before he could be stabilized, and his distraught wife was still in Little Rock.

"We called Charlotte to let her know and said we would come to get her immediately. Gwen would not agree -- she wanted to personally bring Charlotte home," Campbell said. "She helped Charlotte as she spoke with her children and then delivered her home. Charlotte's daughter spoke to Gwen, and Gwen told her, 'If it was my mother, I would want you to take her home, so I'm taking her home.'"

Charles Gold is also survived by a son, who lives in California.

"This was just one of those things, you just don't expect to have that kind of treatment from anybody," Campbell said, "and I think Gwen does things like this every day. You can just tell the kind of human being she is. She went over and above, and then she got on the phone when we got there because Charlotte has a CPAP machine and she told them, 'We've got to get that back here stat, so find it and get it back to Little Rock.' She was just great.

"Gwen was an angel that took Charlotte's hand and didn't let go. She just said, 'I was meant to be here, to do this,' and it just happened. She was such a blessing."

Local on 05/05/2018

Print Headline: 'Southwest angel' goes above the call of duty

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