An airport employee in Boca Raton, Florida, should be feeling exceptionally grateful after he narrowly dodged the wing of a crashing plane — a crash which ended with no fatalities.
According to WFOR, the plane crashed at Boca Raton Airport on Sept. 11.
“Two people were onboard the 4-person aircraft and one had to be taken to the hospital with traumatic injuries,” it reported.
“FAA investigators say the pilot crashed shortly after take-off and may have tried to return to the airport to make an emergency landing.”
Boca Raton police say that the plane crashed in a parking lot adjacent to an airport hangar.
According to WPTV, the crash was caught on surveillance camera by Reliable Jet Maintenance. An airplane crash is always a harrowing sight, obviously, but this one was especially terrifying for one employee:
As you can see, as the plane skids along the parking lot surface, the wing barely misses a Reliable Jet Maintenance employee. In fact, it likely would have hit the worker if it hadn’t been broken off by a fencepost.
“It came in at an angle, I believe, when the tail end of the airplane hit the tree,” Elvis Padilla, the employee who almost got hit, told WSVN.
“Boom,” Reliable Jet Maintenance employee German Gonzalez told WPTV. “Very strong boom. I’m told the roof of the company was falling down.”
“It was just three or four, very hard, like something is hitting something big,” he told WSVN. “Of course, the tail of the plane was already in the tree behind us, and the pilot, as he was going forward, he was leaving pieces.”
According to the Aviation Safety Network, the plane involved was a Piper PA-28, a single-engine aircraft that can carry four people. Shortly after it took off at roughly 10:30 a.m., the pilot said he had to return to the airport.
Officials told WPTV that the plane may have hit a tree on its way down.
It wasn’t just the employee who narrowly escaped being hit by the wing who has a lot to be thankful for here. As it turns out, nobody involved in the crash was seriously hurt.
The plane was both registered to and being flown by Dr. Robert Eckelson of Boca Raton, an orthodontist. Both he and a passenger were saved by those on the scene — including the employee who was almost hit by the plane.
“The co-pilot was just, like, numb, didn’t know what happened,” Gonzalez, who pulled the co-pilot out, said. “[A]nd then, we saw the fuel just pouring out of the aircraft.”
Padilla, meanwhile, got the pilot.
“When I walked up on him, he was very disoriented,” he said. “He looked like he was in shock, and he was bleeding profusely from the mouth and nose area.”
“I just did what I would have wanted someone to do if I was in that situation,” he added.
Onlookers passed fire extinguishers over the fence; the plane was quickly covered in foam, preventing any sort of fire.
“The airplane appears to be a total loss,” Clara Bennett, executive director of Boca Raton Airport, said. “Thankfully, no one on the ground was injured, there was no damage to any of the property on the ground, and both pilots appear OK, although one was transported to the hospital.”
Given everything that happened, that’s arguably the best outcome anyone could have hoped for.
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