ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – Out of time and out of options, a pilot makes an emergency landing that very nearly ended in disaster.
Photos show part of the planes wing slicing into a passing Ford F-150 pickup truck. CBS 11 News talked to the three people who were inside that vehicle.
“It just happened so fast,” said driver Richard Dutton. “You didn’t have time to think.”
Cell phone video, shot by Sean Short — another driver on the road, captured the moments before the emergency landing, but not the impact of the single engine Cessna aircraft.
“I saw it coming in and tried to swerve, but it was too late,” Dutton recalled.
He not only saw the plane flying toward him, but also soon felt it smash into his truck. His passenger tried to warn him, and Dutton swerved to the right to avoid a direct impact.
“Shocked. You’re stunned. Airbags hit you in the head. You’re just kind of ringing. After everything calmed down you just check on everyone.”
Dutton was behind the wheel of his Ford-150, a truck he bought just six months ago. His friend, John Cornett, was in the passenger seat. John’s 18-year-old nephew, Nathan, was in the back.
The three were on the way to Archer City, to pay a trip to their deer hunting lease. They never made the destination. Nathan said, “I saw a little bit of blood on my uncle’s face and kind of wiped it off.”
First responders took Dutton by ambulance to Medical Center of Arlington, as a precaution.
The tail of the plane sliced through the windshield of the truck and within inches of Dutton’s chest. Save for some cuts from the shattered glass, all three of men walked away from the incident. So did the pilot.
A police officer said, “I honestly didn’t think we were going to find him alive.”
As the plane left the ballpark, Friday afternoon, towing a Geico Insurance sky banner, police say the pilot experienced engine problems. The pilot ended up putting the plane down on the west-bound ramp for 287, where the road merges onto Interstate-20.
The plane is registered to an address out of San Angelo. An FAA spokesperson says, it will be several days before the official cause of the crash is known.
Dutton, and the Cornetts say, considering the rush hour traffic, it’s amazing no one was seriously hurt.
“It’s awesome. It’s a miracle,” Dutton said. “Thank God everybody’s safe. That’s really all that matters. Vehicles and planes can be replaced.”
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