Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards and her husband, Frank

Gift of Hope mourns the loss of Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards and her husband, Frank, who were among three people who died in a plane crash east of Springfield on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Edwards had served as Sangamon County Coroner since 2011 and was a strong supporter of organ and tissue donation. Frank Edwards (pictured with Cinda at right) was a former Springfield mayor, fire chief and alderman. The Edwards’ family dog also died in the crash.

“We are shocked and saddened by this tragic news, and our deepest condolences go out to the Edwards family,” said Kevin Cmunt, President/CEO. “Cinda was one of the finest coroners in Illinois. Never once in her entire time in office did she keep organ donation from happening, and she was instrumental in the successful outcomes of hundreds of tissue donation cases. She ensured that law enforcement, forensic pathologists and donation professionals worked effectively and collaboratively to make donation possible. Under Cinda’s exemplary leadership, her office has achieved one of the highest recovery rates in our service area.”

That commitment to Gift of Hope’s mission earned Cinda a Gift of Hope Lifesaving Partners Award in 2016. “Many people have no idea that many organ donors can come from homicide cases,” said Roy Mayfield, Manager of Tissue Recovery Services, who nominated Cinda for the Lifesaving Partners Award. “She never let the science get in the way of common sense. In an office that is surrounded by death, she was responsible for thousands of organ and tissue transplants. She saved lives in the coroner’s office.”

Cinda was also a member of the Springfield Lifesaving Leaders Group, a collection of influential Springfield-area people who support Gift of Hope’s mission of saving and enhancing lives through donation. The group’s work has benefited thousands of people in the Springfield area and has made a positive and lasting imprint on the landscape of organ and tissue donation.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the cause of the crash. Published reports say the plane went down shortly after 3 p.m. in a field east of Springfield in unincorporated Sangamon County. It was heading inbound toward Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport when it crashed.