1970 Marshall Player: Spared For A Reason
Anyone and everyone involved with the Marshall football program considers the fatal plane crash of November 14, 1970 as one of their defining days.
Ed Carter escaped death that day, but the former Thundering Herd standout considers March 10,1974 as the most important day of his life.
Carter acknowledges that day as the one he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Since then, he has travelled as an evangelist, preaching the Gospel and making the most of each and every day of a life he firmly believes was spared for this reason.
“There was a plan for me,” Carter said when he addressed the Bethune-Cookman football team this past Tuesday night. “God has watched over me. I turned my life over to him that night in 1974 If I hadn’t, I’d be dead or in an institution right now” he told over 100 student-athletes, coaches and administrators..
B-CU already had a connection with Marshall and Carter as he was joyfully reunited with one of his former team mates, Wildcat offensive coordinator Jim Pry. Pry was one of the players for the 1971 team that helped restart the program. Pry even had a cameo in the move “We Are Marshall” and still gets emotional when the subject arises including Tuesday night when he had the chance to greet Carter and hear his testimony.
Carter would have been on that plane had not he returned back home to Texas to attend his father funeral. His mother had a premonition that it was going to crash.
“A couple of weeks before, another team [Witchita State] had been involved in a plane crash,” Carter said. “I thought my mom was just being silly.”
Carter was still in Texas when the DC-9 carrying the team back from East Carolina hit trees just short of the runway in Huntington, West Virginia, killing all 75 on board. In addition to dealing with the death of his teammates, Carter had to spend the first days telling the world he was still alive.
“I read my own obituary in the newspapers,” Carter said.
Returning to West Virginia by bus, Carter spent the next few months attended funerals and dealing with the tragedy. That kept him busy. It wasn’t until Spring practice in 1971 that it really hit him.
“I saw all those new faces, all those new players,” Carter said. “All my friends were gone…and they never were going to come back.”
Carter had a brief fling with the pros, earning an offer to the Buffalo Bills training camp, but a hamstring injury impeded his progress. He entered the workforce, first at a steel mill and then as a teacher. He earned his degree in 1974, but he had the feeling that his life wasn’t complete.
It became complete that night in March.
“God told me I was a sinner,” Carter said. “Right then and there, I accepted.”
Carter’s story and life including and beyond football is one to be appreciated, noted B-CU Head Coach Brian Jenkins.
“It’s a great opportunity for us for to hear this,” Jenkins said. “This what we needed to hear tonight.”
Carter’s appearance on campus was a part of the ministry objectives of athletic director Lynn W. Thompson working in conjunction with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.