Local News

Small Plane Crashes Near Va. Campus, Killing Two

Posted August 29, 2000

— A small plane crashed in front of a fraternity at Washington and Lee University on Wednesday, killing both passengers, one of whom either fell from the plane or tried to jump, police said.

One person on the ground was hit in the head by a piece of debris but wasn't seriously injured, officials said.

``The fact that it only damaged a sidewalk and maybe a brick wall is remarkable,'' said Lt. Steve Crowder of the Lexington Police Department. Few students were on campus since most fall classes won't begin for another week.

Witnesses told police they heard a noise like an explosion and saw someone hanging onto the side of the two-seat plane as it spiraled toward the ground about 5:30 p.m.

Trooper Mike Hamilton said one of the victims either jumped or fell out and one body was found outside the wreckage. Neither victim's identity was immediately released.

Hamilton said the plane was heading for Daytona Beach, Fla., and had made a stop at Martinsburg, W.Va. At some point, the pilot changed the flight plan to land at Columbia, S.C.

Becky Gordon, a house mother at a fraternity house, was in the parking lot when she saw the plane diving toward her.

``I could see it coming down and I thought, 'That crazy fool, what is he doing?''' Gordon said. Then she noticed a wing of the plane was missing and saw the aircraft explode in midair.

``I hit the pavement,'' Gordon said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Another small plane crashed Wednesday in the Mississippi River near Grafton, Ill., killing two people on board. Witnesses told authorities the plane was flying low just before it nose-dived into the river. The plane had left St. Charles County airport, northwest of St. Louis.


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