Police said a 54-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman were killed. A 17-year-old male is in critical condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
No additional details were immediately available about the victims Sunday night.
Detroit Police Capt. Mark Thornton said the plane was coming from Arkansas, having left about 3:40 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Coleman Young International Airport at 7:57 p.m. Authorities got the call at 8:02 p.m. that the plane had crashed, he said.
It appeared the plane hit a tree, and a propeller was in the street on Milton, just west of Van Dyke and near Forest Lawn Cemetery on the city’s east side, according to photographer Bill Eisner. The plane landed upside down.
Eisner said part of the plane was burned where the engine was located.
The Federal Aviation Administration said initial reports were that three people were aboard the Cessna 210 that crashed near Coleman A. Young International Airport and was destroyed by fire, spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.
According to preliminary information, the pilot had reported a landing gear problem and low fuel to air traffic controllers shortly before the accident, Lunsford said.
Lunsford said that neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents, deferring to local officials to release that information.
The plane narrowly missed several houses and crashed in an open field.
Larry Whitfield, 72, who lives around the corner and has been in the neighborhood for 20 years, said, “The plane went right over my house. I was in the house and heard it hit.”
He said he ran out of the house and around the corner and immediately encountered a plane that had crashed and people trying to get passengers out. He said the plane was on fire.
“One guy, big guy, by a window couldn’t get out and he couldn’t breathe. I had a stick. Didn’t work, so another guy got an ax,” Whitfield said.
With the crowd yelling at them that the plane was about to explode, Whitfield said he and the other man used the ax to break out the window and then open the plane’s door.
Whitfield said he looked in as closely as he could and said the big guy he had tried to help “had to be dead, his legs was all burned up.”
When asked if he felt like a hero, Whitfield said “anybody would have done it.”
WDIV-TV reported the single engine aircraft was flying in from Texas after leaving an airport in Arkansas. Lunsford said he has not yet seen a flight plan.
He said the NTSB usually posts a preliminary report within a week to 10 days after an accident and that it typically takes up to a year or more to complete an investigation.