COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. (WSVN) – A pilot in training is OK and his instructor sustained minor injuries after their small plane had to make an emergency landing in Collier County.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units responded to a call referencing a plane down about two miles south of Alligator Alley at Mile Marker 55 at around 10:54 a.m., Tuesday.
The Greater Naples Fire District and Collier County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene.
Two people were on board the Piper PA-32 that took off from Tamiami Executive Airport and was en route to Arcadia Municipal Airport. A drone from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office spotted the aircraft.
Jose Ecarri, 21, told 7News he is a pilot in training and was in the plane with his instructor. The two were flying to the Central Florida airport to have lunch.
“Taco Tuesday and they sell tacos in Arcadia and wrong day,” Ecarri said.
The 21-year-old said they were flying near Mile Marker 33 when the plane experienced engine problems.
“Well, we were like at 2,000 feet, and we just felt like the engine go off,” said Ecarri. “We were trying to reach I-75, but we knew we couldn’t make it and just braced for impact. One of us is going. I didn’t think that we would both survive the impact. That’s it.”
7SkyForce hovered over the scene where one of the passengers could be seen being hoisted into a MDFR helicopter.
“I just called 911, and ‘How are you doing?’ ‘I’m alive,'” Ecarri said. “‘You can pick me up tomorrow, but I’m alive.'”
The two were taken to a nearby rest area, where Ecarri’s mother was waiting to hug her son.
“The two patients were brought to the aircraft and were relocated to a safe area,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue flight medic Jeff Suarez said.
Ecarri’s instructor has since been transported to a local hospital for minor injuries.
The 21-year-old wears a necklace of the Virgin Mary, which he wears in honor of his grandfather, who recently died.
When asked if he felt his grandfather was with him during the crash, Ecarri said, “Yeah, he was. Yeah, I felt him. I actually did.”
The Federal Aviation Administration will now investigate.
The plane is registered to a Miami man.
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