BOCA RATON, FLA. (WSVN) - Two pilots were injured after a small plane crashed near the Boca Raton Airport shortly after takeoff, narrowly missing a maintenance worker.
Surveillance video from Reliable Jet Maintenance captured the employee running away from the single-engine aircraft as it crash-landed Airport Road off Interstate 95, Wednesday morning.
“It came in at an angle, I believe, when the tail end of the airplane hit the tree,” said Elvis Padilla, the lucky Reliable Jet employee.
The security footage showed one of the wings nearly clipping Padilla.
“It was just three or four, very hard, like something is hitting something big,” said German Gomez, another employee. “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.”
Boca Raton Police and Fire Rescue responded to the area of Airport Road off Interstate 95, just before 11 a.m.
7Skyforce HD hovered above the scene where a wrecked aircraft could be seen sitting in a pool of foam that had been sprayed by firefighters to control a leak.
A trail of debris was visible where the plane skidded, as it crashed shortly following takeoff at 10:32 a.m.
“At approximately 10:31 this morning, an airplane took off from the airport and declared the intention of returning to the airport,” said Clara Bennett, executive director of Boca Raton Airport. “It didn’t quite make it back to the runway, crashed in a parking lot adjacent to one of the hangars.”
Cellphone video captured the tense moments after the impact, when Padilla and Gomez sprang into action to save the pilot and co-pilot.
“Oh, my God, he’s alive,” said the person recording the video.
“The co-pilot was just, like, numb, didn’t know what happened,” said Gomez, “and then, we saw the fuel just pouring out of the aircraft.”
While Gomez, grabbed the co-pilot, Padilla ran out to pull the pilot.
“When I walked up on him, he was very disoriented,” said Padilla. “He looked like he was in shock, and he was bleeding profusely from the mouth and nose area.”
Padilla unbuckled the pilot quickly out of fear that the plane would catch fire.
Other workers then grabbed fire extinguishers and passed them over a chain-link fence.
“I just did what I would have wanted someone to do if I was in that situation,” said Padilla.
“The airplane appears to be a total loss,” said Bennett. “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.”
Billy Vale, who witnessed the plane crash, was shocked that the incident coincided with the 18th anniversary of 9/11.
“It concerns me as it happened on 9/11, so I’m always suspicious anytime there’s anything involving a plane on 9/11 that crashes. My heart stops,” he said. “I’m glad that, hopefully, it was just an accident.”
Witnesses said the plane lost its engine when it made the emergency landing.
Wednesday evening, 7News cameras captured crews placing the remains of the aircraft onto a flatbed attached to a pickup truck. By 10 p.m., the wreckage had been removed and the part of the chain-link fence that was taken down by the aircraft had been was back up.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.
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