A twin-engine plane crashed into a house in Madeira on Tuesday as it was heading back to Lunken Airport, killing the pilot, officials said.
A man who lives behind the site of the wreckage said the sound of splintering wood was so intense, he thought his own home had been struck.
Carter Waide ran outside, toward the wreckage in his neighbor’s yard. The front end of the plane was obliterated, he said, adding “anybody that would have been in the first two seats didn’t have a chance.”
The plane burst into flames.
Waide alerted authorities, sickened by the scene.
“It was so strange to see a plane,” Waide said. “Felt sick cause you knew it was really bad. I said a quick prayer and tried to help but nothing (could) be done.”
No other fatalities were being reported Tuesday evening. Ohio State Highway Patrol did not specify how Sapp died or where he was from.
The plane, which fire officials said had been gathering images for maps and geographic information systems (GIS), went down at about 3:18 p.m. It hit the addition on the back of the house, knocking part of the addition down, said Madeira/Indian Hill Fire Chief Stephen Ashbrock.
A neighbor said no one was at home at the time of the crash, and two dogs were rescued.
The house is on Rollymeade Avenue, near Kenwood and Shawnee Run roads, just east of the Kenwood Country Club. It’s a neighborhood filled with children. The streets are lined with single-family brick homes with big front yards and some large mature trees.
Jenny Brock, who lives near the crash scene, has grown accustomed to the sound of airplanes passing overhead because the neighborhood is directly on the flight path to Lunken.
“I just heard a good three seconds of what sounded like an engine failure, then a loud bang,” Brock said.
Judith Lampe, who also lives nearby, said the plane “made a terrible noise.”
The back of the house, Lampe said, was “pretty much open to the elements.”
Officials with the FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board responded or were en route to the scene, Ashbrock said.
The FAA released the following statement:
“A twin-engine Piper PA-31 crashed into a home… near Madeira, Ohio. FAA investigators are on their way to the crash site, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation. The FAA and NTSB do not release names of pilots or passengers.”
Radarbox24.com, which tracks the movement of planes, shows the Piper left Lunken Airport and then flew north to Springfield, Ohio. The Piper made at least six passes over the Springfield area, then went south and made at least four passes between Middletown and Mason. It then headed south, in the direction of Lunken, which is about five miles south-southwest of the crash site.
The plane was built in 1980, FAA records show. A plane with the same tail number was involved in an accident in 2002, according to documents on AviationDB.Net. The plane hit power lines during a landing at Front Range Airport in Colorado about 20 miles east of Denver. The pilot couldn’t see through the windshield because of a window heater failure.
The plane currently is owned by Marc Inc., which a company website describes as “North America’s largest provider of contract aircraft and flight crews for airborne GIS survey and surveillance projects.” Marc bought the Piper in 2007, FAA records show.
The company’s owner, Billy H. Miller, said he was not aware of the crash and directed requests for information to the company’s office, which is based at John Bell Williams Airport in Bolton, Mississippi. The airport is owned by Hinds Community College. The company, which owns and operates its own fleet, referred all questions to their attorney, Thomas Bryson, who was not available for comment.
Madeira resident Bill Heckle had been out flying Tuesday, testing his plane’s radio gear. He described the conditions as clear with little wind.
When Heckle landed at Lunken Airport, he noticed that his wife had been calling his cellphone. They live down the street from the crash scene.
She was worried because she knew he would have been flying in the area.
“She was pretty distraught when I called,” Heckle said. “She was concerned that it might have been me.”