A big flash of fire, belching black smoke and something that “came out of the air and hit the ground and just blew up,’’ is how 911 callers described the plane that crashed into a residential neighborhood in Pompano Beach on Monday.
Pompano Beach Fire Rescue released the 38 911 calls made when a small plane crashed into a home in the 900 block of Harbor Drive/26th Avenue, a middle-class residential neighborhood of largely single-story homes on the east side of U.S. 1. The Pompano Beach Airpark is on the west side of U.S. 1.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office identified those on the airplane as pilot Geoffrey White, a 40-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident; co-pilot Fernando Quispe Diaz, 25, of Peru; and Sylvia Coello Mena, 23, of Ecuador. Both Mena and Diaz are flight students. All three survived the crash, although they had second-degree burns and Mena was listed in critical condition. They’re being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
The 911 tapes paint a picture of a plane falling from the sky and crashing into a home in the suburban community.
“I watched it crash; the house is on fire,’’ one caller told dispatchers.
Said another: “We saw a plane going over our building on North Riverside Drive and he was turning over and all of a sudden it just went down. We had a big flash of fire and now there’s black smoke coming up … We can’t see the plane because it’s on the other side of houses, but there’s black smoke coming up all over the place.’’
Another caller who lived across the street described the surreal scene: “There has been a horrible explosion right across the street from my home.. It looked like something came out of the air and hit the ground. Maybe it’s an airplane or something. Something came out of the air and hit the ground and just blew up.”
Investigators on Tuesday started to piece together what happened. The single-engine prop plane crashed around 3 p.m. Monday, shortly after takeoff from the Pompano Beach Airpark. The Hawker Beechcraft 76 aircraft is owned by a corporation in Wyoming, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.