Two people in a small propeller-driven airplane were killed when the aircraft crashed along the side of a road in central Florida near the city of Ocala on Thursday, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.
A witness reported seeing the small plane take a sharp nosedive and burst into flames after slamming into the ground on the side of State Road 200.
A woman driving along that road said a piece of a propeller hit her vehicle, while a man in another vehicle was reportedly seriously injured and transported to a nearby hospital after his vehicle was struck with a piece of the aircraft after the crash.
Other witnesses simply saw a plume of smoke in the aftermath — and dozens of people rushing to the scene to see if they could provide any assistance.
Two confirmed fatalities
The Ocala Police Department tweeted shortly after the crash: “Two confirmed fatalities are passengers of the small single engine aircraft. The area of SR 200 in which the non traffic accident took place will be shut down for the next several hours as we wait for NTSB/FAA to arrive.”
Fox News reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed that the aircraft involved in the crash was a Beechcraft Baron, which had crashed southeast of the Ocala International Airport around 11:30 a.m.
A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Peter Knudson, told Fox that the small plane was a light-weight, twin-engine piston aircraft that crashed shortly after taking off from the nearby airport.
Both agencies will play a role in the investigation of the crash. As of now, eyewitness accounts and reports indicate that the aircraft had suffered some sort of mechanical failure and attempted to turn around and return to the airport when it crashed into the ground.
Mechanical failures on a “maintenance flight”
The Star-Banner reported that the small aircraft had been on a “maintenance flight” when it took off from the airport on Thursday morning.
Witnesses reported seeing the plane flying very low and disappearing behind stores and trees before making the U-turn and unsuccessfully attempting to return to the airport.
Unfortunately, due to how extensively the bodies of the victims were burned in the crash, their identities will not be confirmed until the Medical Examiner’s Office is able to complete its own investigation.
Hopefully, investigators will be able to quickly determine who was involved and what exactly happened, if only so the families and friends of the victims can have some closure.