By: Ryan Hughes
The FAA said a Piper PA28 single-engine aircraft with two people on board crashed shortly after takeoff around 10:30 a.m.
“I heard a loud boom and I thought it was a truck or something out here on I-95 like normal,” said Rick Seymore, works for Jet Parts Inc.
The Boca Raton Airport Authority said as soon as the plane took off, the pilot alerted the control tower there was some type of problem.
The pilot, identified as Dr. Robert Eckelson, a Boca Raton Orthodontist, was trying to circle back to the runway but instead crashed in a parking lot behind a hangar for a company called Reliable Jet Maintenance. The aircraft may have hit a tree, a spokesperson said.
Video from WPTV Chopper 5 showed the Piper smashed up with its tail and nose sheared off, and covered in white foam. Part of a mangled wing and other debris were located several feet away near a tree.
“I ran and I got the door open, I got Mark out, we got him pulled away from the fuel and then we got the pilot out and got him away,” Seymore said.
Eckelson was taken to Delray Medical Center as a trauma alert, fire officials said. He was later listed in good condition. The other person on board was treated at the scene for a minor injury.
Airport Road was closed between the Cinemark movie theater and NW 40th St., after the crash.
“It’s a miracle of God because other than the bloody nose that the pilot had and mark maybe had a broken leg were talking a miracle,” Seymore said.