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Investigation Underway After Small Plane Crashes In Opa-Locka

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OPA LOCKA (CBSMiami) – An investigation is underway following a plane crash in Opa-locka Tuesday morning.

CBS4 has learned the pilot, James Webster, told his passengers, a couple in their 70s, a fire had started after a fuel leak and he had to pick the safest place to crash land the plane.

The aircraft went down near 537 Burlington Street between a body of water and train tracks sometime around 10 a.m. injuring the three of them.

Jose Batres told CBS4's Peter D'Oench that heard the crash and went running to help.

"I was working at the warehouse and I hear like a big noise and I jumped on the washing machine. I see over the fence and I say to my partner, 'Hey a plane got down and just crashed,'" said Jose Batres.

Plane Down Opa Locka
A plane went down in Opa Locka, injuring a number of people on Dec. 1, 2015. (Source: CBS4)

He said they ran to the scene where they found a lady with a gash in her head and a man with what seemed like a broken arm.

Batres said he also told the pilot to turn off the engine of the plane since gasoline was leaking, possibly causing an explosion.

"I tell him like three times, 'Hey switch off the plane, switch off the plane because it's going to be an explosion,'" said Batres.

He said the woman's husband kept telling her, "Hey we did it. We did it," referring to the landing.

Plane Down Opa Locka
A plane went down in Opa Locka, injuring a number of people on Dec. 1, 2015. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews could be seen treating two patients. (Source: CBS4)

Chopper4 was over the scene as Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews treated the people.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said a total of three people were taken to the hospital.

Two were considered trauma alerts and airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The other was being taken by ground.

Family members said the pilot often took the couple to the Bahamas and nothing had ever happened before.

They said their loved ones have a few broken bones but are going to be okay.

A spokeswomen for Jackson Memorial Hospital said the pilot and the male passenger whose first name is "Otto" are both in fair condition.

A dog was also seen among those injured. It was on board the plane at the time of the crash.

The couple's dog, Sugar, was taken to the Broward Animal Hospital in Hollywood.

The plane had just taken off from Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport three minutes before when it lost power and went down.

Now the NTSB will collect evidence and try to determine what went wrong.

Norman Hegeeus of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department was able to retrieve a plane wheel from the canal.

"Any part that we find helps put together this investigation," he said.

The Piper (PA-32-260) is registered to a box office in Miami.

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