Small plane crashes near Bush IAH

Camera phone photo from the scene

June 3, 2010 4:35:16 PM PDT
A small plane crashed into a home near Bush Intercontinental Airport Thursday afternoon. The single-engine Cessna 180 crashed around 2pm in Humble near Old Humble Road. The plane crashed with such force that residents say they felt the ground beneath them shake.

"You could actually feel it when the airplane hit," witness Jennifer Martinez said. "You could feel it. It was really, really crazy. Very scary."

Investigators say 61-year-old Robert Donnelly, of Midland, ran out of fuel while heading to nearby Bush Intercontinental Airport from Odessa, Texas. Instead,he tried to land his plane in a field southeast of the Humble neighborhood, but didn't make it.

Witnesses said they saw the plane circling overhead several times and they could actually hear the engine putter out. The next thing they knew it clipped some trees and power lines; they said they watched it do a few summersaults before taking a nosedive into the ground.

"Everybody started screaming 911," witness Wanda Wolf said.

The plane crashed into the back of a roofing business. Owner Glen Sykes and two of his employees who were inside weren't hurt.

Sykes couldn't believe it.

"It just starts building, you know?" he said. "You realize what happened, you start shaking a little bit then you calm yourself down."

As for Donnelly, he survived and was able to climb out of the wreckage. The maintenance man who works at the apartment complex across helped him.

"I asked the pilot if he was okay," the apartment complex worker, Alvaro Espinoza, said in Spanish. "I told him put your hand on your nose because you are bleeding. Keep it there until help comes."

Donnelly suffered a broken nose during the crash and is being taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where is listed to be in stable condition.

Neighbors say it's nothing short of a miracle that no one was killed.

By Thursday evening, crews had placed a blue tarp over sections of the roof of the damaged building.

The Federal Aviation Administration is spearheading the investigation into the crash.

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