MARATHON, FLA. (WSVN) - Only one person remains hospitalized on Friday after a plane crashed near Marathon airport.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the Piper Lance single-engine plane carrying four adult men, Thursday afternoon, took off from the airport traveling north on Runway 7.
According to a passenger, the aircraft was caught by a gust of wind as it lifted off. The wind, which FHP said was anywhere between 30 to 40 miles per hour, caused the plane to blow over into a wooded area behind the airport.
“Threw them off course, and they rolled over into an area that’s lined with trees, just off of the west side of the roadway,” said FHP Lt. Kathleen M. McKinney.
7Skyforce HD hovered over the scene of the crash, just west of the runway.
The pilot and two passengers were airlifted with serious injuries. All three were alert and talking after the crash, according to FHP.
The fourth passenger did not need transport and only suffered minor injuries.
As of Friday afternoon, passenger Danny Gilileo is the only person that remains in the hospital.
“Three of them were airlifted due to the serious nature of their injuries — possibly broken bones, that type of thing as far as their injuries,” said McKinney, “but everybody was conscious.”
The four men on board the plane have been identified. The pilot was identified as 65-year-old Roch A. D’Aoust of Panama City Beach, and the passengers were identified as 53-year-old Derrick H. Kelley of Auburndale, 49-year-old Danny A. Gilileo of Auburndale and 60-year-old Tony R. Lewis of Lakeland.
Lewis sustained minor injuries. D’Aoust is currently being treated at Jackson South Community Hospital, and Kelley and Gilileo are being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Family members said D’Aoust is known for his big heart and bigger sense of adventure.
“A wonderful smile and a million-dollar laugh,” said his ex-wife Mary D’Aoust. “He’s a good man.”
The Department of Environmental Protection was also called to the scene due to 90 gallons of plane fuel that spilled during the crash.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the plane caught fire, but, deputies said, the fire was extinguished quickly.
“We were very fortunate that it ended the way that it did, that they went down in the area that they went down in,” said McKinney.
The airport’s runway was closed for some time but reopened just before 4:30 p.m., Thursday.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Officials said the cause was most likely wind, but they have to wait to rule out mechanical issues.
The National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation.
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