A small plane carrying five people crashed Friday afternoon on Interstate 75 near Naples, Fla., bursting into flames, killing two people, authorities said. Three of the people on board were able to get out of the plane, they said.
The Bombardier Challenger 600 series jet crashed on the highway around 3:15 pm, the Central Aviation Authority said. said in a statement. It was not immediately known if anyone on the field was injured.
As the plane approached Naples airport, the plane's pilot radioed that one of the plane's twin engines had malfunctioned, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement Friday. The company said it could not comment on the cause of the accident in the early stages of the investigation.
Photographs and video footage from the scene showed the plane's fuselage in flames and a large plume of smoke rising above the crash site.
The plane took off from Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, Ohio, said Robin King, director of communications for Naples Airport.
“They were scheduled to land here in Naples at about 3:15, and two or three minutes before that, our tower got word from the pilots that, quote, they had lost both engines,” Ms. King said. “We didn't know what that meant. We lost touch.
Ms King said the plane crashed about two or three miles from the airport. Three of the five people on board managed to get off the plane, he added.
An Ohio State University spokeswoman said the flight was not affiliated with the university.
Brianna Walker, 26, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said in an interview Friday that she was driving home from Fort Myers with her friend's mother and was heading south on Interstate 75 when she saw the plane crash.
“It looked like it was trying to hit the median,” Ms Walker said. “It starts sliding across the freeway, takes a car with it, the wing comes down, crushes another car into the median, and then it hits the concrete and bursts into flames immediately.”
Ms Walker took two videos of the accident, which she shared on social media. In one, the plane is on fire and it looks like someone is trying to flee the crash. In the immediate, chaotic, aftermath of the crash, Ms Walker said, people struggled to tell if they could leave the plane.
Ms Walker said she and her friend's mother were afraid the plane would explode, so her friend's mother drove onto the median to go around the plane.
“I said, 'You have to drive now. It's now or never,''' Ms. Walker said. “We booked it.”
A six-mile stretch of Interstate 75 will be closed for at least 24 hours. According to the Collier County Sheriff's Office, and local officials encouraged people to avoid the area while the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board investigated. Florida Highway Patrol troopers were also on the scene.
More than two hours after the accident, Highway cameras showed it Dozens of vehicles were stuck in the jam and several law enforcement vehicles were unable to get around the scene.
The NTSB said “more” investigators will arrive Saturday to examine the crash. In its investigation, the agency said it was examining flight path data, aircraft maintenance records and weather reports.
The company also said it plans to look at the pilot's license and flight experience and anything the pilot did in the 72 hours before the crash that could affect the pilot's ability to fly the plane. The agency is asking anyone who witnessed or videotaped the crash to contact the agency.
The plane, which authorities said has registration number N823KD, was scheduled to fly from Naples to Fort Lauderdale on Friday afternoon. According to FlightAwareA flight tracking website.
A Challenger 604 with registration number N823KD is listed as part of a fleet maintained by Hop-A-Jet Worldwide Jet Charter, a private jet charter company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. CompanyIt did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
Susan C. the beach Research contributed.