Sanford, FL Plane Crashes Into Houses, Jul 2007

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Sanford, Fla. July 10 - A small airplane piloted by the husband of a NASCAR executive crashed into a suburban subdivision here today while trying to make an emergency landing, killing him and four other people and seriously injuring several others as at least two houses burst into flames this morning, officials said.
NASCAR confirmed on its Web site that both people on board the Cessna 310 that crashed were killed: the pilot, DR. BRUCE KENNEDY, a Daytona Beach plastic surgeon and husband of Lesa France Kennedy, a NASCAR board member and president of the International Speedway Corporation, and MICHAEL KLEMM, a pilot for NASCAR.
"This morning, at approximately 8:40 a.m. Eastern Time, a Cessna 310 registered to Competitor Liaison Bureau Inc. of Daytona Beach, crashed in a Sanford, Florida, area neighborhood," NASCAR said on its Web site. "At this time we can confirm there were two people onboard, including the pilot, DR. BRUCE KENNEDY, and MICHAEL KLEMM, a senior captain with NASCAR aviation. Both were killed in the crash."
This afternoon, authorities released the names of the others who died on the ground. They were JANICE JOSEPH, 24, her son, JOSEPH WOODARD, 6, and GABRIELA DECHAT, 4.
They had been in the houses that ignited when the plane crashed into them.
Matt Minnetto, an investigator with the Sanford Fire Department, said the plane itself was scattered in several pieces across the area. Among the three survivors was a boy about 10 years old who had burns over 80 to 90 percent of his body, Mr. Minnetto told The Associated Press.
"It was an extremely intense fire," he said. The crash had spilled aviation fuel, contributing to the fire's spread.
Televised images of the scene showed huge balls of blazing orange flames licking at some homes and black opaque smoke rising high into the sky above the neighborhood. Neighbors said pieces of the exploding plane had landed on their yards and surrounding streets.
A firefighter who lived in the neighborhood ran out to try to help when he heard the explosion and saw the blaze, and he was overcome with smoke inhalation and taken to a nearby hospital, the authorities said. Neighbors identified him as RYAN COOPER, who works with the Lake Mary Fire Department.
Another neighbor who ran out to help when she heard the crash was Zimar Loyd, 41, a nurse who moved to Florida after she witnessed the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center as a nurse working in New York City.
"I was in my husband's den this morning when I heard the boom, and I thought, what's going on, is it the 4th of July," she said. "I looked out on my backyard and there was fire and smoke all over the place. The first thing I thought about was my kids. I yelled out to them, 'get out of the house, get out of the house.'"
"I called my husband, who is out of town, and told him, it's like deja vu," she said. "It's happening all over again. It's horrifying and scary to think about how life is."
Ms. Loyd said many people ran out to help when they saw what had happened.
After she got her three crying children and 79 year old mother out of the house, she saw that ambulances were already on the scene.
"If the firefighters hadn't gotten here so fast, it might have been the whole neighborhood burning," she said.
The plane was traveling from Daytona Beach to Lakeland when the pilot declared smoke in the cockpit, the authorities said. The pilot was attempting a landing at the Orlando/Sanford International Airport when it crashed just north of there, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, Kathleen Bergen, told The Orlando Sentinel.

The New York Times New York 2007-07-10