Two people were killed in a plane crash on a Florida highway
At least two people were killed Friday afternoon when a small plane that lost its engines collided with a vehicle on a Florida highway as the pilot attempted to make an emergency landing, authorities said.
Five people were aboard the private plane when it crashed near an interstate exit in Collier County, Florida, creating a fiery debris field that prompted officials to close Interstate 75, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that two people died in the crash.
Naples-area resident Jenny Johnson was involved in the accident just minutes after it happened, while heading north on I-75 around 3:20 p.m.
“Suddenly I saw a lot of black smoke,” Johnson said. “It was pitch black. As I got closer, the smoke got a little lighter. Then I saw the flames.”
Johnson said flames erupted in the air, consuming the plane, and there was a destroyed car sitting in the middle. As she crawled north, sticking to the aisle on the other side of the road to give herself as much space as possible away from the plane, she watched it all unfold.
Robin King, director of communications for the Naples Airport Authority, said the plane was heading from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, to Naples Airport in Florida, and was scheduled to fly to Fort Lauderdale. She said the airport lost contact with the plane before it crashed at about 3:10 p.m., and it departed Ohio at 12:30 p.m.
“It was coming for a touchdown,” King said. “We received reports that one of the engines might be missing… then we lost contact,” he added.
In a transcript of the final call from the pilot, the pilot told the air traffic controller that they would not be able to land on the runway.
Pilot: “Okay, Challenger, Hop-A-Jet 823, lost both engines, emergency. I’m going to make an emergency landing.”
Controller: “I have an emergency. Prepare to land on runway 23.”
Pilot: “We can land, but we won’t be able to land on the runway. We’ve lost both engines.”
Federal officials are investigating the incident
The plane crashed at 3:12 p.m., according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles told USA TODAY that at least two vehicles were involved in the collision and said the closures affected northbound and southbound traffic on I-75. The Florida Highway Patrol in southwest Florida said southbound lanes remained closed as the investigation continued into the evening. In a post on social media Shortly before 8 pm Friday.
The plane was a private jet, a Bombardier Challenger 600, operated by Hop-A-Jet Worldwide Charter based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to aircraft tracking company FlightAware. Hop-A-Jet did not respond to an email and phone message from USA TODAY seeking comment.
Hop-A-Jet issued a statement late Friday saying it had “received confirmed reports of an accident involving one of our charter planes near Naples” and that it would send a team to the crash site.
“Our immediate concern is the safety of our passengers, crew members and their families,” the statement said.
According to NTSB and Aviation Safety Network records, Friday’s Hop-A-Jet flight collision was at least the seventh fatal accident involving that series of Bombardier private jets since 2000. While some of the crashes were caused by problems with the plane, some The other was due to problems with the plane. Reports indicated that the cause of the accident was pilot error or other factors.
Naples Airport sent fire trucks containing a special foam that can help control jet fuel fires. Florida Highway Patrol troopers were at the scene.
The NTSB said the incident is considered an accident.
Officials said the airport in Ohio is a commercial location. Ohio State University spokesman Ben Johnson confirmed that no one from Ohio State University was connected to the trip.
The NTSB told USA TODAY it has opened an investigation into the crash, and an investigator arrived at the scene Friday afternoon. Another number are expected to arrive on Saturday. The agency will examine the accident scene and the aircraft before transporting it to a facility for further inspection.
Investigators will review the pilot’s actions, the aircraft and the environment, including aircraft maintenance and weather records, pilot credentials, witness statements and more, the NTSB said.
Two small planes crashed in Florida within two weeks
Friday’s collision is at least the second small plane crash in Florida this month.
Last Thursday, a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza V35 crashed into a mobile home park in Clearwater, Florida, near Tampa, shortly after an engine failure was reported. The collision caused four mobile homes to catch fire, and a Federal Aviation Administration report said the accident killed the pilot and two people on the ground. The FAA said the pilot was the only person on board.
According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, there were 1,124 general aviation accidents in 2021, the most recent year for data available, and 202 of the accidents were fatal.
This is a breaking news story: check back for updates.
USA TODAY Network’s Naples Daily News, Fort Myers News-Press and Columbus Dispatch journalists Liz Freeman, Alex Martin and Watch Megan, The Associated Press contributed to this report.