Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

3 people and a dog named Sugar survive plane crash near Opa-locka Airport

Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue and FAA investigators inspect the aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff east of Opa-Locka Executive Airport on Tuesday December 1, 2015.
Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue and FAA investigators inspect the aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff east of Opa-Locka Executive Airport on Tuesday December 1, 2015. CMGuerrero@elNuevoHerald.com

A small plane crashed after takeoff near Miami Opa-locka Executive Airport on Tuesday morning, landing upside down in a grassy swale next to a canal and train tracks. Its four passengers survived with non-life-threatening injuries. Three of them were human.

The fourth: Sugar, an 11-year-old golden mixed breed, who was taken from the crash scene on a stretcher and driven to the Broward Animal Hospital by a good Samaritan.

“She had some injuries to her paw and a small laceration on her forehead,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman Erika Benitez said.

The three others, two men and a woman aboard the Piper PA32, were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Officials have not released the identities of those onboard, but records show that James Webster owns the plane. Miami Herald news partner CBS4 reported that Webster was the pilot. Benitez said two of the people were airlifted, the other taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Benitez said at least one of the injured was out of the plane when fire rescue arrived shortly after the 10:38 a.m. crash.

The plane went down in the 500 block of Burlington Street between a canal and train tracks, near industrial yards and warehouses. One of the plane’s wheels broke off and came to rest in the canal across the way. Paramedics, investigators and officers surrounded the mangled plane for hours after the crash.

Workers in nearby warehouses saw the plane flying low, heard a loud bang and raced out to help the injured after the crash.

“All I was thinking is we have to save these people,” said Jose Batres, adding that gas appeared to be leaking from the plane.

Batres and three co-workers were inside a warehouse when the plane crashed. At first they thought a packing container flipped. Then Emilio Salgado climbed on top of an old washing machine to look over the fence.

“He said a plane just fell,” Batres said. The three ran around a fence and found the pilot with a bloody face. Batres said he helped a man and woman out of plane and saw a dog with an injured paw.

Aquilino Garcia was in his office across the canal when he looked out his window and saw the plane hovering over the utility cables. Then he heard a crash that sounded like two cars colliding. He said he was too far away to help.

Interim Opa-locka City Manager David Chiverton said the plane crashed inside the small city shortly after takeoff. . He didn’t know where the single-engine plane was headed. Chiverton said the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the accident.

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