NTSB: Engine failure led to Palm Coast plane crash

Preliminary report says plane clipped tree, fell at steep angle into house

PALM COAST, Fla. – A preliminary investigation blames catastrophic engine failure for the plane crash into a Palm Coast home two weeks ago that killed a pilot and his two passengers.

The plane crashed and burst into flames on Jan. 4 about a mile short of an emergency landing at Flagler County Airport.

Pilot Michael Anders, 57, and Duane Shaw, 59, both from Kentucky, and 42-year-old Charissee Peoples, of Indiana, died in the crash.

DOCUMENT: NTSB preliminary report

The plane went down at 2:19 p.m., less than 10 minutes after the pilot declared an emergency and reported smoke in the cockpit, telling a Daytona Beach air traffic controller: "We're just getting a little vibration. We have oil pressure problems. We're gonna have to drop quickly here."

Photo from back yard of home on Utica Path shows a wing of the Beechcraft Bonanza that crashed through the roof.
Photo from back yard of home on Utica Path shows a wing of the Beechcraft Bonanza that crashed through the roof.

Based on the last radio communications with the pilot and evidence at the crash site, the initial National Transportation Safety Board report says the single-engine Beechcraft H35 lost all oil pressure.

The pilot got an airport surveillance radar, or ASR, guiding him to runway 29 at Flagler County Airport in Palm Coast. The NTSB said the pIlot did hold an instrument rating, but minutes later, he reported that engine oil pressure was zero with "cool cylinders." The NTSB report says Daytona Approach cleared the pilot to land, but two miles out from the runway they heard no other transmissions from the plane.

The report says witnesses saw the plane flying low on final approach and about one mile from the approach to the end of runway 29, they lost sight of the plane behind tall pine trees.

As the plane neared the airport at an "unusually low altitude," it clipped a tree and fell almost vertically into the house, which was about 4,200 feet southeast of the airport.

The three on board died at the scene. The wreckage and the home were mostly destroyed by flames.

The homeowner, Susan Crockett, bailed out a bedroom window to escape the crash and subsequent fire. She was shaken up, but uninjured.

Crockett said Friday she's doing as well as she can after a plane crashed into her house. She said she hadn't looked at the NTSB report, but her lawyer did and said the issues with the plane's oil is something they will explore.

"We would assume that e crash would have resulted as a result of pilot error, but now there is also indication that it could have been something mechanical," Crockett's attorney, Marc Dwyer, said. "And so that will be something that we will be following up with."

Crockett said her life is much different since the crash.

"Not sleeping well, having nightmares, sleeping a lot during the day, can't go back to work, loud noises make me jump and they scare me," she said.

Crockett, who lost everything from clothes, appliances, food and her bed, has been staying at a retirement home where her daughter works and said right now she can't see herself moving back into the home where she nearly lost her life.

"It was just unreal to look at it or if I see a picture of it in the newspaper, that I actually got out of there," she said.

NTSB says this is just the beginning of its investigation. For Crockett, it's the beginning of the long road ahead.

"I know my belief in God is going to take me through," she said. "I don't know what in have in store, but I know that it's going to be a long and rocky road."

Michael Anders (tall)
Michael Anders (tall)

The plane had taken off from Fort Pierce that morning headed to Knoxville, Kentucky. The three were returning from spending the Christmas holidays in the British Virgin Island, were the plane was registered.

Anders taught Spanish at Clinton County High School, and also coached golf and sponsored the chess club.

The NTSB says the airplane wreckage was moved to a nearby storage facility for examination. The engine will be shipped to the manufacturer's facility at a future date for additional examination.