DETROIT -- Authorities say two died and another person was injured when a small plane crashed in Detroit while heading to the city's municipal airport. Detroit police Capt. Mark Thornton told reporters the single-engine plane en route to Coleman A. Young International Airport apparently struck a power line and tree on Sunday night. He says it burned in a vacant lot. Thornton said "courageous citizens" rescued the survivor.
Officials identified the victims as a married couple Greg, 54, and Julie Boaz, 48. Their 17-year-old son Peyton Boaz survived. Nobody on the ground was injured.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said preliminary information indicates the pilot reported a landing gear problem and low fuel to air traffic controllers shortly before the crash. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
One of the "courageous citizens" appeared to be neighbor Larry Whitfield, 72, who told the Detroit Free Press that he came out of his home to find the plane one fire and people struggling to escape.
"The plane went right over my house. I was in the house and heard it hit," he said.
"One guy, big guy, by a window couldn't get out and he couldn't breathe. I had a stick. Didn't work, so another guy got an ax," Whitfield said. He and the other man managed to break through the aircraft as people yelled at them to get away, fearing an explosion, enabling one passenger to escape.