Photograph via WFLA.
ST PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) –
FAA investigators are trying to figure out what caused a small plane to crash at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg on Monday morning.
Three men and a 17-year-old girl were on the Piper 4-seat aircraft, which was in route from Tallahassee to St. Petersburg’s Albert Whitted Airport. All people on board the plane are believed to be from Northern Ireland.
The plane’s pilot, Grant Jordan, 57, and passenger Aloysius Ryan, 52, were injured in the crash. They are in serious-but-stable condition at Bayfront Hospital in St. Petersburg.
The plane’s other occupants, Eamonn Harnell, 48, and the 17 year old female suffered minor injuries .According to information received from the plane’s pilot, the plane suffered engine failure as he began his approach to the airport and he was forced to attempt a landing in the park.
Witnesses say the plane was heading north to south when it crashed and struck a tree while trying to land. The plane came to rest in an upright position in the southern section of the waterfront park.
Justin Destoppelleaire was sitting on a park bench just feet from where the plane came to rest.
“I realized oh my gosh I’m about to experience a plane crash just feet away from me,” Destoppelleaire said.
Kevin Bradley was at the nearby Vinoy Marina when he saw the crash and rushed in to help.
“The three passengers were okay, they had a little bit of cuts on their faces and we got them out,” said Bradley. “Then I went straight to the pilot because his head was tipped back.”
The park is located less than a mile north of Albert Whitted Airport.
St. Petersburg Firefighters were training at nearby North Shore Pool at 10:30 a.m., when the plane crashed. This allowed them to respond to the crash quickly.
“It’s fortunate that no one else was injured,” said St.Pete Fire Lt. Henry Simmons.
“Had it been a weekend Saturday or Sunday it probably would have been a little different.”
Firefighters say there was no sign of fuel leakage or any scent of gas at the crash site. Witnesses tell 8 On Your Side the plane dropped silently from the sky with its propeller slowly windmilling without power.
No one will say whether fuel starvation or some other kind of mechanical failure caused the plane to lose power.
The plane is registered to Advanced Technology Training LLC in Gretna, Louisiana.
Stay with WFLA.com for updates about this story.
Original story, here.