2 men who died in Putnam County plane crash identified

Ultralight experimental aircraft explodes, crashes, witnesses say

CRESCENT CITY, Fla. – Two men were killed Wednesday morning when a small plane crashed in a remote area south of Crescent City, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

The crash was reported just before 9:30 a.m. on the property of a fern farm near U.S. 17 and Smiley Store Road.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers identified the men as Thomas E. Stevens, 67, of Crescent City and Joe Anthony Fyock of Orange City.

IMAGES: Ultralight plane crashes in Putnam County

People who knew Stevens said he was taking off from his farm about a mile away from the crash site when they heard a loud explosion and came running. They said he was taking a joyride in the plane, an ultralight experimental aircraft (similar to the one pictured).

According to the FHP report, "for reasons still under investigation, the aircraft quickly lost altitude and struck the trees and ground below."

Stevens was flying the plane and Fyock was his passenger.

The Sheriff's Office said it received dozens of phone calls to 911 from people who reported seeing the plane crash. 

Caller: "An airplane came down. I don't know exactly. I'm heading that way. I'm in Crescent City, Florida."
Dispatcher: "Yes, sir. We've had multiple calls on this. Can you tell me how many people on the plane?"
Caller: "There were two people on the plane."

The FHP is leading the investigation. 

"We are getting some information with witnesses and local residents about what possibly happened with this, so we're taking all that information and seeing if we can figure out what happened in this terrible tragedy," FHP Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and will be investigating.