A small plane crashed into a utility pole while trying to make an emergency landing on a golf course Tuesday, killing one person and injuring the other aboard.
The incident was
The pilot reported a loss of oil pressure and engine trouble, so he tried to put Cessna 172 down at Dubsdread Golf Course, north of downtown Orlando, police spokesman Sgt. Brian Gilliam said.
But the plane struck a power pole, immediately stopping in a shower of sparks. That collision may have been fortunate, because it appeared the pilot was about to overshoot the fairway and crash into a parking lot.
One man on board, Dan Lawlor, 33, died in surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center after suffering head and chest injuries, Gilliam said. He was a flight instructor at Showalter Flying Service in Orlando.
Another Showalter pilot, Steve Schieber, 26, was in fair condition. The two friends had taken the plane out for a pleasure flight, Gilliam said.
Witnesses told police it appeared the engine was off before the plane crashed, Gilliam said.
Wtnesses rushed to the plane and pulled out one of the occupants, laying the person down on a green on the golf course. The other person had to be removed from the plane by rescue personnel.
Tom Stewart, who manages a nearby restaurant on the golf course, helped with the rescue. He told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, "At first, I couldn't believe it when they said a plane crashed out there. Myself and one of the other managers and one of my servers went out, saw what was happening and grabbed fire extinguishers from the kitchen.
"There was another pedestrian that had either been playing golf or was walking by up in the cockpit, trying to pull the gentleman out from the cockpit," he continued. "That's when we helped get the one gentleman out of the cockpit, got him down on the ground and moved him away from the plane, because we didn't know if the fuel would ignite.
Stewart says he didn't fear for his own safety: "You just kind of react to the situation. When you know the people are alive -- you could see them moving, and we were trying to get them out as soon as we could. There were no flames, but there was fuel leaking from the plane. We didn't know if it would catch on fire."
The pilot he helped pull from the plane was "conscious, but not really very coherent. He was definitely dazed," Stewart told Storm.
He says he doesn't consider himself a hero. "I just think, if I was in that situation and somebody would be helping me out. We just kind of reacted to the situation. We knew the people were alive and everybody was just kind of in awe of what happened, because the plane didn't make any noise when it came in. The engine wasn't riding. It just kind of glided in. Then, all of a sudden, the explosion from the transformer and the power going out."
The plane had been bound for Orlando Executive Airport, about eight miles away. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board plan to investigate.
Power was cut to about 900 customers, Orlando Utilities Commission spokesman Sheridan Becht said. Most had their service restored within 45 minutes.
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