Three of four passengers on a single-engine Piper Lance airplane reportedly were injured Thursday afternoon after it crashed into the wooded area behind Marathon’s airport.
A passenger told Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kathleen McKinney the plane was taking off, traveling north, when it was caught by a gust of wind and blew over into the wooded stretch between the runway at Florida Keys Marathon International Airport, mile marker 52 bayside, and Aviation Boulevard.
It caught on fire but it’s not clear if the fire broke out before or after it crashed around 2:30 p.m.
The pilot, Roch Aoust, 65, of Panama City Beach and two passengers, Derrick Kelley, 53, and Danny Gilileo, 49, both of Auburndale, Florida, were taken to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami Monroe County’s Trauma Star air ambulance helicopters. The fourth passenger, Tony Lewis, 60, of Lakeland, had minor injuries but was not airlifted.
The plane leaked 90 gallons of fuel, McKinney said, and the airport is still closed. However, the plane is well off the runway and not a hazard. But emergency vehicles are still tending to the plane and fuel leak she said.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the 1977 Piper plane is owned by All Pro Auto Parts of Auburndale, east of Lakeland.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219