By Houston Harwood
A small plane that had reportedly been experiencing engine trouble on a flight from Illinois to Tennessee crash-landed at an Evansville golf course on Sunday afternoon.
Four people were on board the green-and-white Piper Saratoga that came down on Hole No. 17 at Helfrich Golf Course on the city’s West Side around 2 p.m.
An Evansville Police Department spokeswoman said all four were taken to hospitals for what she described as “non-life-threatening injuries.”
Three teenagers were playing on an adjacent hole when one of them, Micah Luckett, told the others he spotted the plane on its way toward the course.
“He tells me there’s a plane crashing and … I was like, there’s no way a plane’s crashing,” said Max Renshaw, one of the other teens. “All of a sudden we just hear a loud bang. And all three of us drop our bags and we rush over the hill. And sure enough, the plane has crashed. Micah (called) 911.”
The third teen, Mason Harth, went to check on the four passengers, Renshaw said.
According to Flight Aware, a plane with a matching registration number took off from Taylorville, Illinois, at 12:48 p.m. and was scheduled to land in Gallatin, Tennessee, shortly before 3 p.m. According to tracking on Flight Aware, the plane had reached the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio rivers near southern Posey County when it turned off its course and headed toward Evansville.
The passengers’ identities have not been released.
Luckett said when he called 911 to report the crash, a dispatcher told him they had already been alerted to a small plane having engine trouble.
“(911) asked me which golf course and what hole because they already had people going out ready to go and get them,” Luckett said.
Harth, who went to check on the passengers, said he found two adults and two children.
“They’re all just laying there (by the plane),” Harth said. “None of them were (badly) injured.”
Harth said the pilot told him there’d been an engine problem during the flight.
Gray said EPD is holding the scene for investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
As for the teenagers, they said they play at the course once per week. They’ve been at Helfrich lately because the greens fees are lower as the city repairs damage caused by equipment failures over the past year.
Usually, it’s just Renshaw and Luckett. They invited Harth along Sunday. They admitted to “getting more than they bargained for.”
“Best five bucks I’ve ever spent,” Harth said.