Florida plane crash at Publix: Five injured, no fatalities (+video)
Florida plane crash: A small experimental aircraft crashed into a Publix supermarket Monday. Five people were injured, including the pilot and passenger.
A small experimental plane sputtered and crashed in flames into a supermarket in the DeLand, Florida shopping center Monday evening, injuring five people and sending frightened shoppers running from the complex, authorities said.Skip to next paragraph
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Several people in the Northgate Shopping Center in DeLand dialed the 911 emergency dispatcher around 7:20 p.m. to report that the aircraft had plunged into the complex, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said. Callers said the plane showed signs of trouble moments before it hit the roof of the supermarket of the Florida-based Publix chain.
"A twin-engine experiment aircraft has crashed into the roof of the Publix supermarket," DeLand Police Sgt. Chris Estes told The Associated Press by telephone. "Publix is the only structure to suffer any damage." But he said all the businesses in the complex were closed to make way for emergency crews.
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He said the plane had taken off from a nearby municipal airport in DeLand, a Florida city about 20 miles (30 kilometers) west of Daytona Beach.
UPDATED 4/4/2012: The amphibious Sea Wind 3000 plane encountered problems shortly after taking off from the DeLand Municipal Airport, less than two miles from the shopping center. Investigators weren't sure where the plane was heading.
One 911 caller said the engine began sputtering. "The next thing you know, it went down nose first," she said.
The plane is made of composite material and was amateur-built in 2002. It seats four people but only two people from Illinois were aboard, said Schiada.
DeLand Police spokesman Lt. Jack Waples identified the men as Kim Presbrey and Thomas Rhoades.
Three customers were hurt, and two people aboard the plane were hospitalized in Orlando. All of the injuries came from burns, said Luke Schiada, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said a pilot and a passenger from the plane were airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center. Spokesman Gerardo Morales later confirmed to AP that two people had been airlifted there, but he declined to identify them or discuss their injuries.
Emergency dispatch tapes released Tuesday captured the urgency of the situation as customers fled the store a day earlier: A man is heard yelling "Get out! Get out!" on the 911 tape.