A single engine aircraft crashed Wednesday afternoon in the Belfast Keller Road driveway of Richmond Hill resident Ted Flake.
The three passengers on board were injured, but there were no fatalities, according to Bryan County Emergency Services Director Jim Anderson. Anderson also said North Carolina pilot Terry Scallan was flown to Memorial Hospital by Lifestar helicopter while the other two, Scallan’s daughter, 29-year-old Wendy Kennedy, and 8-year-old granddaughter, were taken to Memorial by ambulance. No one on the ground was injured.
The trio was flying back to North Carolina after a Disney World vacation in Orlando, according to Anderson.
Anderson said hospital reports indicate the condition of the two adults is improving. Flake said the little girl is physically okay and already back at her North Carolina home.
Anderson said the accident has been handed over to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is conducting a joint investigation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it will be several months before they determine the cause of the crash.
Flake, a local home builder, said he had been working on a site in the Buckhead subdivision when he decided to go home for lunch.
"As I approached the house, I could see the plane in my driveway," Flake said. "As I got closer, I then realized that the plane had crashed there. I rushed around the driveway and saw the pilot crawling out."
Flake said the left wing of the plane was apparently sheered off when it landed, causing a hole in the plane that the three crawled out from. When he saw the pilot exiting, Flake said he yelled across the yard to a truck driver who had stopped to call 911. Flake said Scallan was bleeding from facial injuries.
Flake said he calmed the little girl and got her to sit down while asking Kennedy, the girl’s mother, to talk with her.
Flake said he then put his old boy scout training to use by getting Scallan to lie on the ground while Flake put a jacket under his head and feet to stabilize him. Flake said it was soon thereafter that a flood of emergency workers arrived on the scene.
"Everybody started showing up and they did such an outstanding job," Flake said. "It was a coordinated effort that would make anyone in this county proud if they would have seen it."
Flake said he plans to visit the family at Memorial Hospital. He said he did not know the full extent of their injuries, but learned that Scallan had broken ribs in addition to facial injuries while Kennedy had a broken wrist and ankle and the little girl lost some teeth.
Flake said he was amazed by Scallan’s piloting skills, being able to land where he did without colliding with the numerous trees, utility poles and houses in the area.
"Can you imagine what his (Scallan’s) state of mind must have been like?" Flake pondered.
"I mean not only do have the highly difficult task of crash landing where he did, but think of the precious cargo he had to protect: his own daughter and granddaughter. It took a mental toll on me in the short time I dealt with the crash, and I can only imagine what their state of mind is like."