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Deadly Plane Crash Destroys Multiple Florida Homes, Rocks Community

Investigators in Clearwater, Florida, are working to determine how many people are dead after a small airplane crashed into a senior living community Thursday.

Multiple people on the ground were killed just after 7 p.m. when a pilot who had just sent out a distress message via radio crashed into a mobile home at the Bayside Waters Mobile Home Park, WTVT reported.

The aircraft was identified as a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza V-35 plane.

The community in the Tampa Bay area of the state was described by those who live there as “close-knit,” and is reserved for people 55 and older.

Some residents noticed a small plane without a light on hit the ground at a 45-degree angle and crash into the mobile home, where it immediately burst into flames, according to WTVT.

Witnesses said as the airplane struck the home they heard an explosion.

A spokesperson with the Federal Aviation Administration told WTVT the plane’s pilot, who has not been identified, had said over the radio that he was experiencing engine failure.

He was headed toward Clearwater St. Pete Airport for an emergency landing but crashed three miles short of the runway.

Investigators were still working early Friday to determine how many people were killed, along with their identities.

They believe those inside the mobile home were killed, and have not determined whether the pilot was alone or whether there were passengers aboard the plane.

Three other mobile homes were damaged by fire but early reports said the people who were in them during the crash made it to safety.

A community resident named Wayne Smith told WTVT he lost friends inside the mobile home that was struck and he had just finished playing a round of golf with one of them minutes before the crash.

“It’s the worst possible news anybody could get,” the man told the outlet. “We were together and ten minutes later they’re dead.”

“I can’t understand why. I just don’t know,” Smith added. “We golf once a week together. We’re just a close-knit family, even though we’re not family. We’ve known each other for a long time, and they were all great, great people and I can’t describe the feeling that I have right now because I just loved them.”

Clearwater Fire Department Chief Scott Ehlers said his men are always ready in the event of a plane crash and they quickly rushed to the scene Thursday evening.

“That’s critical because those aircraft response vehicles are designed to put large fires out and that was a critical component of maintaining this mobile home park,” Ehlers said.

Ehlers added that his crews were at the community within seven minutes of the crash and he thanked them for doing a “phenomenal job.”

READ 7 COMMENTS
  • Sandidad says:

    A competent pilot wouldn’t allow his plane to dive at a 45-degree angle with a dead engine. He would avoid a stall and stay on a glide path.

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