COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) — A small plane crashed into a house and ignited a fire in central Indiana early Thursday, injuring two men on board the aircraft but leaving a woman inside the home unscathed, authorities said.
Both men were able to walk to ambulances unaided after the crash in Columbus, a city about 40 miles south of Indianapolis, neighbors said. Their conditions and names weren’t immediately released.
Hiroko Nakao, 51, said she was inside doing laundry when the impact of the crash shook her house, destroying a sun room and shattering windows. She fled to a neighbor’s house uninjured and called her husband at work.
“She said, ‘House is burning! Fire!,” said her husband, Tadashi Nakao, 53. “I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call from her. I thought she was joking.”
The crash occurred around 9:30 a.m. in a well-manicured neighborhood about a mile from the city’s airport, Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houze said. Witnesses said they saw the plane flying extremely low and that its engine didn’t sound normal just before the crash.
“He was losing altitude and I thought, ‘He’s going to crash,’” Joe Andrew, who was washing his Corvette in his driveway when he noticed the plane, told The Associated Press.
Neighbor Marion Clavin told WTHR-TV that he heard two booms and went outside to investigate. He said he saw one person who had climbed out of the plane.
“He was bleeding and he was on fire. I told him, ‘Roll on the grass, roll on the grass!’” Clavin said.
The man told him the pilot had already escaped the wreckage, Clavin said.
Retiree Larry Ruble, 63, lives across the street from the crash scene and said he knows the pilot. He declined to identify him but said the pilot just turned 81 and had built the plane.
“He’s a great guy. He built it himself and it’s been up in the air a lot,” Ruble said.
The plane involved is a Glastar GS-1 kit plane registered to Gerald Clayton of Columbus, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. A message left at Clayton’s home was not immediately returned Thursday.
FAA records list Clayton as a private pilot since 2004, and as a repairman and builder of experimental aircraft.
Columbus Police Lt. Matt Myers said he spoke to one of the two men on the plane upon arriving at the crash scene.
“He knew he was fortunate to be alive. He was concerned about his buddy,” Myers said.
Myers said both men were taken to an Indianapolis hospital, and that one had blood on his head and burns.
The Nakaos, who moved to the United States from Japan four years ago, said they planned to stay in a hotel or with friends Thursday.
Hiroko Nakao said she feels fortunate she escaped injury.
“It was my worst experience ever,” she said.