February 21st, 2024

Small plane with 5 people aboard makes emergency landing on southwest Florida interstate


By The Associated Press on February 9, 2024.

In this image provided by the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol troopers are on the scene of a small airplane landing on southbound Interstate 75 in Naples, Fla., Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. The plane collided with a vehicle as it made the emergency landing. (Florida DOT/The News-Press via AP)

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) – A small airplane with five people aboard collided with a vehicle as it made an emergency landing on Interstate 75 in southwest Florida Friday afternoon, bringing traffic to a halt as a massive plume of black smoke rose into the air.

The crash landing happened near the Pine Ridge Road exit in Collier County, just north of where the interstate heads east toward Fort Lauderdale along what is known as Alligator Alley.

Brianna Walker, 26, witnessed as the wing of the plane dragged the car in front of hers and slammed into the wall.

“It’s seconds that separated us from the car in front of us,” she said. “The wing pulverized this one car.”

Walker and her friend saw the plane moments before it hit the highway, allowing her friend to pull over before the crash.

“The plane was over our heads by inches,” she said. “It took a hard right and skid across the highway.”

Walker said an explosion of flames then burst from the plane with a loud boom. Pieces of the plane littered the highway.

“It feels unreal like a movie,” she said. “It was seconds between us dying.”

The Federal Aviation Administration identified the aircraft as a Bombardier Challenger 600 jet and said the crash happened about 3:15 p.m. It was not immediately known whether there were fatalities or injuries among those aboard the plane or anyone on the busy interstate.

According to the FlightAware aircraft tracker, the plane was operated by Hop-a-Jet Worldwide Charter based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It took off from an airport at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, at about 1:02 p.m. and was scheduled to land in Naples at 3:12 p.m. After that, the aircraft was scheduled to fly to Fort Lauderdale. Hop-a-Jet did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.

A spokesperson for Ohio State University said the aircraft is not affiliated with the university, and they have no further information about it.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, with the NTSB leading the investigation.

The Florida Highway Patrol said in a news release that the southbound lanes of the interstate were closed and advised motorists to seek alternate routes. A photo captured by the Florida Department of Transportation showed a huge plume of black smoke rising from the plane.

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