2 injured in small plane crash identified
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities have identified the two people injured when their small plane crash-landed near tailgaters gathered for the Florida-Arkansas football game.
Witnesses and University of Florida Police Chief Linda Stump say pilot Graham Hill's attempt to make an emergency landing on Flavet Field averted disaster. No one on the ground was injured when Hill's plane lost power Saturday as it towed a banner over the campus.
"They were toting a banner when the plane lost power. They jettisoned the banner because it's a big drag," said Gainesville Fire Rescue Chief Gene Prince. "They knew they weren't going to make it so they made a decision that this might be the best place they could come down without hurting anybody."
The banner landed in a residential neighborhood where it caused some property damage but no injuries, said Gainesville Police Lt. Bruce Giles.
Witnesses told The Gainesville Sun (http://bit.ly/GGM60N) the plane flew low over Pressly Stadium, passed over a residence hall and flew between two tall light poles before hitting the ground.
"You didn't hear it coming. You didn't hear anything. The pilot should really be lauded," said witness Karen Guffey of Bartow. "It hit the ground, bounced and because it was going pretty fast, it hit a vehicle. Everybody ran down there and the two young men came out pretty fast. Security made us leave because of the fuel and a fear of fire. I ran back and got a rag because, being a mother, I wanted to take the blood off them. They were pretty bloody."
Authorities identified the passenger as Ian Conrad. Hill and Conrad were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Stump said the Alachua County Sheriff's Office is investigating instead of the National Transportation Safety Board or the Federal Aviation Administration because of the federal government shutdown
The university's police department has repeatedly tried to restrict banner plane flights over campus since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"Every year since 9/11 we have talked to the (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board. We have asked for restricted airspace. Nobody wants to tackle that," Stump said. "The pilot did what appears to be as good of a job as he could in this dense of an area."
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