Decatur community mourns loss of two killed in plane crash

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The Decatur community mourns the loss of a well-known doctor, one of two people tentatively identified as those killed in a small plane crash Monday in Alabama.

A preliminary report shows the plane lost power while in flight and crashed. That information is from the National Transportation Safety Board which the Federal Aviation Administration released. Tuesday afternoon, the NTSB said investigators need to look take a close look at the engine because there are many potential reasons for engine failure. The NTSB says as of November 2009, Dr. White logged 1,600 hours of flight experience. Investigators will also be looking at his experience.

Madison Alabama Police say Dr. John White of Decatur is believed to be the pilot, and his passenger Lisa Marie Mattix of Spring Hill, Tennessee. Police say evidence from the crash site and video evidence from a separate location led to those identifications.

Police say the plane reportedly landed in Huntsville to refuel and crashed after leaving the airport. The plane was registered to Dr. White. says the plane left Boca Raton, Florida Monday morning and was headed to Nashville. It crashed in a vacant lot between homes.

The doctor, fondly called "Rocky" by friends and family, came to Decatur from Chicago in 1990 and opened a general surgery practice at St. Mary's Hospital. Mattix was the Office Manager at Surgical Associates in Decatur. Co-workers say Dr. White loved to fly, so even though the Coroner has not confirmed his death, many at the hospital are shaken up by Monday's tragedy.

The President and CEO of St. Mary's Hospital, Kevin Kast, says Dr. White "had a great sense of humor, a spirit of generosity, and always responded to those in medical need."

"Rocky cared for anyone, regardless of ability to pay," said Dr. Lee Endsley, Director of Professional Affiliations. One woman called the station and told us she is devastated by the news. She met Dr. White when he performed an ulcer surgery on her that no one would do back in the early 90's.

We here at StormCenter 17 would like to send our condolences to the White and Mattix families in their time of despair. Countless people have benefited from the work Dr. John J. White and Lisa Marie Mattix did throughout their lives. Please share your memories and condolences with us by using the form below.

Here are some memories viewers have shared with us:

"Dr. White had performed surgery on me back in Feb 2000. He saved my life because had I not had the surgery when I did I would have died. I thank him everyday for the graditiude that he had to take my case with no hesitation. Dr. White will be greatly missed and I hope in time his family will be able to heal and recovery from this tragedy."

- Rebecca Finch, Decatur

"My youngest son was having severe stomach and side pains. I took him to the ER and the ER Dr. there said he had green apple belly to take him home. I did and a few hours later I had my son back in the ER. This time they said maybe his appendix. I had them call Dr. White. He walked into x-ray, felt my sons belly, and said to get him to surgery immediately. My sons appendix ruptured on the table. Dr. White saved my sons life. Had he not gotten him into surgery, my son would of died, he was 11 at the time. I will always hold a special place in my heart for Dr. White. He was a caring, thoughtful man who cared about his patients no matter what social standing they came from."

- Dixie Inman, Decatur

"Dr. White was one of the best surgeons that Decatur ever has seen in my opinion. The community will be at a great loss with the death of this fine surgeon. He had one of the best bedside manners that I have ever seen in a doctor. He will be greatly missed. He was a very wonderful, caring doctor. He saved my daughters's life when she had to have an emergency surgery and I will always be thankful to him for that. I would like the family to know that they are in my thoughts and prayers at this terrible time."

- Rosemary Stephens, Decatur

"Lisa was a bridesmaid in my wedding and I hosted her baby shower for her only child, Leah. She was smart, funny, beautiful, and the 5 years we spent together with our husbands and friends in Ft. Lauderdale were some of the best years of our lives. Our deepest sympathy goes to Jeff, Leah,Steven, Kenny, Kim, and Christina. God Bless you all."

- Patty and Mark Blake, Winter Park

" I knew Dr. White when I worked at St. Mary's Hospital. Dr. White was a very kind, generous human being. At Christmas time, when ever I looked at the star on the front of St. Mary's Hospital, I always thought of Dr. White, and his generosity to St. Mary's Hospital. He donated that beautiful star to the hospital. That star now holds a different meaning to me. Decatur has lost a true humanitarian. God Bless his family and friends in this most difficult time."

- Tammy Kapper, Macon

"Dr. White saved my life 8 years ago and when I came to, he was holding my hand. What a man. He has taken care of me since. God bless you all."

- Jane Tomms, Lovington

"Leslie & Jack our thoughts and prayers are with you. Rocky was the best boss I ever had. In the time I was working for him my daughter had stomach pains that continually got worse all test were negative. Rocky went in regardless & removed her appendix. The pathology showed it was indeed appendicitis even though test did not show it. The community has lost a great doctor!!"

- Paula Jarvis, Decatur

"Dr. White was one of the best surgeons that Decatur ever has seen in my opinion. The community will be at a great loss with the death of this fine surgeon. He had one of the best bedside manners that I have ever seen in a doctor. He will be greatly missed. He was a very wonderful, caring doctor. Dr. White did surgery on my mom, my dad & me. we first seen him 14 years ago. We never ever wanted another surgeon. My mom was supposed to see him this Thur. When he did surgery on my dad, he was at the hospital all day long, with the test that my dad had to have before surgery, We first seen him at 7 a.m. & last seen him at 12 a.m. To Dr. White's Family, I would like to let them know know that they are in my thoughts and prayers at this terrible time. Also that Dr. White was a caring Doctor."

- Darla Burcham, Decatur

"Dr. White was a caring, thoughtful man who cared about his patients no matter what social standing they came from. Alot of Doctors need to take a lesson from Dr. White. He cared for his patients & He knew how to treat people. I know my family will miss Dr. White. To the family, you are in our thoughts & prayers."

- Carolyn Burcham, Decatur

"My husband met Dr White when he first came to Decatur, shortly after that my husband had to have surgery, he went to Dr White who did the surgery. and my whole family fell in love with him. He did surgery on me and implanted two of my pacemakers, hes done surgery on my son, son in law, grandson and daughter. he was the most caring and humble Dr I have ever met. Our community has suffered a great loss, it will never be the same. I will miss seeing his smiling face. He was indeed a Dr who cared."

-Sue Inman, Elwin

"I worked with Dr. White during my time in ED and also in the OR. He always came when he was called. He was never too busy, and he NEVER asked "What kind of insurance does the patient have?". HE was a pioneer. Dr. White brought the lap chole procedure to Decatur when others said it was a fad. He gave so much. This is a tremendous loss for the community. I was acquainted with Lisa Mattix. She always had a smile on her face, and was very friendly. Experienced nurses are needed today. She will be missed."

-Marie Davis, Decatur

"I had the fortunate opportunity to have had Dr. White as my surgeon twice. He was one of the most professional and caring doctors I have ever had. I am very saddened with his passing and leave my prayers with Dr. White's family and friends. He will truly be missed."

-Dianna Britt, Decatur

"I worked with both Rocky and Lisa and they were both wonderful people. Both St. Mary's and Surgical Specialists must be reeling with shock right now. I am thinking of all of my past co-workers and friends at this tragic time. The community, both families and friends have all suffered a great loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who knew them. They will be greatly missed."

-Kriss Henry, Cecilia

"I met Dr. John White a few times when I worked Pediatrics and several time since working in the ER at St. Mary's. He always would come to ER when asked to see a patient. He was a wonderful Doctor. The Medical field has lost a great Doctor. My prayers go out to the family of Dr. White and Lisa Mattix."

-Carla Giles, Assumption

"I have worked with Dr. White at St. Marys, he was my surgeon and a friend. 2 years ago I was in the hospital and had been there very sick for 4 weeks, I begged my family to call in Dr. White, he came right away and rushed me to emergency surgery. If it was not for him I would not be here now. At the lowest point in my life, he came in and saved me. I knew if anyone could fix it he could, and he did. Even after that he always cared about how I was doing long after I was healed and back to life. I have many fond memories of Dr. White, too many to say. He was a caring, compassionate and dedicated surgeon. St, Marys, Decatur and surrounding areas have lost someone amazing. This will effect our medical community for a long time. He is now flying with the angels and will be greatly missed by many. My prayers go out to his and Lisa's friends and family. Thank God for blessing us with him."

-Misty Hallett, Decatur

"Dr. White was my surgeon and the only one that I trusted and would let perform a surgery on me. He also did my daughters surgery. He was my aunts surgeon prior to her passing as well. He was a kind, loving, compassionate man that was truly loved and will be missed."

-Renee Stuck, Decatur

"I am a Drill Sergeant in the US Army and was home on recovery leave from surgery at Fort Knox, KY. I was having complications and went to the DMH emergency room Christmas morning. Dr. White determined that I needed emergency surgery to repair a bowel resection tear. My family and I want to thank Dr White again for addressing a serious medical condition (on Christmas Day) and restoring my health. May God Bless his family and keep them in His grace."

-Staff Sergeant Greg Doolin, Decatur

"I have known Dr. White since he came to St Marys, my being a mental health provider in an adjacent psychiatric office. As time passed, I needed surgery and chose Dr. White. When I needed another surgery, I again requested Dr. White. Merely being in his care was reassuring. Not only was he highly skilled as a surgeon, but he was sincere in his compassion for all of us. In an era of impersonal, rushed medical care, Dr. John White emulated all that was good from a bygone era of personal medicine while being able to combine being so personal with cutting edge technology. It was like having one's surgeon as their caregiver who was also their personal friend. Dr .White would stop and ask how I was when he saw me approaching him in the hallway. After one of my surgeries, I saw him coming towards me and I immediately began to limp and groan. He gave me a big laugh, then he asked me if I had any discomfort. Dr. White served as an inspiration and model for many of us. Never cease to be caring, kind, or loving. Never cease to be reassuring. Be generous. Be giving. Value each person. Never be impatient. Be humble. Our derived value stems from the service of others. Giving, not taking, brings joy. Dr. White understood this and embodied it. Dr. White, I have very few heroes. You are one of them. Thank you. I will always remember you."

- Bill Gillen, Decatur

"Dr. John was a regular customer of our at Tasty's Chicago Grill, he and his son whom went to St. Teresa (or still attends) always came in and I knew what their order was by just looking at them.. People will laugh cause I knew right away...I didn't know he was a doctor but I knew that he cared for his son cause they were always together....He will be missed...from all of us here at Tasty's Chicago Grill."

- Maricella Nasir, Tasty's Chicago Grill, Decatur

"Dr White just took my Gallbladder out on the 9th of January..He was kind, and explained what he would doing. It was a shock to find out what happened. My deepest and sincere condolences go out to both families."

- Brandi Keller, Decatur

"Lisa Mattix was an excellent nurse, mother and friend, I respected her personally and professionally. Lisa was truly a great person. My prayers go out to Dr. White and Lisa's family and friends."

-Mike Egan, Peoria

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Rocky White. It has been a pleasure working for him and his family and friends over the years. He insisted that we called him Rocky, he didn't need the recognition of being a doctor. He always had a smile and a short funny quote everytime I spoke to him. He will be dearly missed by many."

- Brent White, White's Auto Body, Decatur

"Dr. White performed my appendectomy. He joked with me because I actually took him away from his golf game that afternoon! My appendix would've ruptured if he hadn't acted so promptly. He was wonderful!"

-Stefanie Brock, Mt. Zion

"Back in 1995 my husband had severe back pain for the past ten years. Test after test was done and no one could find the problem. Dr. White was called to the John Warner Hospital after my husband was admitted for the same back pain. Dr. White told my husband that he should have a nuclear test on his gall bladder. The test was done and showed that the gall bladder had 0% function. Dr. White removed his gall bladder and my husband has been free of back pain ever since. Then in September of 2009 I was admitted to John Warner Hopital with the same horrible back pain and Dr. White again came to our rescue and removed my gall bladder. We have lost a truely brilliant and compasionate doctor. He will be deeply miss in the medical field."

- Sandra Montgomery, Clinton

"On behalf of myself and my family, our sincere condolences and sympathy to the family of Dr. John White. For several years, this caring man has been a lifeline to me through multiple illnesses, surgeries and extended hospitalizations: I always knew he was only a phone call away!!!"

- Ray Dennis, Pana

"Dr. White will be missed by all that knew him. I remember my husband was sent to him for a "hot" gall bladder and I was a worried mess. He made it a point to come into the waiting room and take me to the side with a very gentle yet professional hug said "hes fine mrs baker you can see him in just a few minutes" that was the greatest feeling ever for him to take the time to tell me that my husband was ok and that i would be able to see him very soon. Dr White showed great compassion and was a very professional man. I know we will miss him and our hearts go out to his friends, family and coworkers. I have to agree with the prior posts that Decatur has lost the best surgeon EVER! With lots of love and prayers..."

- Missy Baker, Taylorville

"Rocky was an outstanding surgeon and teacher. I had the privilege of learning under his guidance when I was a resident in Family Practice in the SIU Family Practice Residency program in 1991-1994. He was a very hard worker and brought innovative procedures to Decatur, specifically laparoscopic surgery. He was an inspirational role model. He was very generous on many levels. He bought me a medical textbook after my rotation with him. He was a very influential part of the medical community. My condolences to his family and close friends."

- Lynn Zills, M.D., Riverton/Springfield

"It was nearly five years ago when I first met Dr. White. A few hours later I was at St. Mary's hopital being rolled into the operating room. I noticed that Dr. White had on an Illini surgical cap and we spoke about that nights game. The Illini were playing North Carolina for the basketball National Championship in Saint Louis that nite. I told Dr. White that I had waited my whole life to see the Illini win a basketball championship and he told me he had tickets to that night's game. He told me not to worry because if everything goes well we will be out of surgery soon and I will get to see the game on t.v. and he said he would be able to make it in time too. Well, fate had other plans. After nearly five hours of surgery to repair the damage from ruptured ulcers, I woke up and Dr. White was there with me right by my side. I may have missed seeing the Illini play that game that night but Dr. White helped give me my life back. My wife, three children, nine grandchildren and I thank him. And I will never forget him."

- Tom Maton, Pana

"We first met Rocky in 2000 when he recruited my husband to Surgical Specialists. He picked us up in the biggest car we've ever seen. The back seat was like a small apartment, and it had one stylin' flashing-light, disco radio. Rocky loved his"toys," and few people we know worked harder for them. He impressed on my husband that their number one priority was to be immediately available and responsive to any patient in need. Surgical Specialists was "his baby," and he was fair and honest with all of his partners and employees. But nothing in this world made him more proud than his son, Jack. He was a loyal and generous supporter of St. Mary's Hospital, and he cared deeply for all of his patients. He was a really special, unique of a kind, and we will all deeply miss him. We are certain that it was no accident that his plane tragically came down in a vacant lot. Even his final act was considerate of other people. Leslie and Jack, know that you are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

- Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Trachtenberg, Forsyth

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