JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A pilot operating a single-engine plane ran out of fuel before making an emergency landing Saturday afternoon in a Westside neighborhood, a newly-released police report revealed.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report obtained by News4Jax on Tuesday, Michael Thometz, 40, told police he ran out of fuel on approach to Herlong Airport. The pilot said he knew he wouldn't make it to the runway and didn't want to crash into the woods, so he aimed for a street in the Westside neighborhood, about 3 miles away from the airport.
During the crash landing on Sharon Lake Drive, police said, the plane struck three vehicles, and took out two mailboxes and some wooden poles before coming to rest in a yard -- causing an estimated $4,000 in damage to the plane and $10,000 in total damages.
The pilot was unhurt, and no one on the ground was injured.
Days later, neighbors who saw the crash landing told News4Jax that they still can't believe it happened.
Tyshaunda Davis, who lives near the site of the crash landing, said Tuesday that she's counting her blessings.
"Speechless," Davis said. "I didn't think it was real."
She said that on most Saturday afternoons, her children play on the front lawn. This Saturday, however, her family was away.
“I know that it was God for the children not to be in the front yard at that time, because they are in the front yard every Saturday morning and afternoon, playing," Davis said.
Davis said her husband's truck sustained serious front-end damage during the crash.
Noemi Adams also said her car was damaged as a result of the crash.
“First thing I said, ‘My car, my car.’ Because nobody was paying attention, they didn’t see that my car got hit,” Adams said. “I said, ‘My car. Look at my car.’ The whole – the whole window in the back is really shattered.”
Adams’ 13-year-old grandson, Keith, was inside the house and saw the single-engine Cessna crash land in his neighbor’s front yard.
“My mind was thinking, ‘Please don’t let it explode because that would just cause even more damage and it would even, possibly, take the pilot’s life,’” he said.
Despite the damage, Davis said, she’s impressed by the pilot’s skills.
“He may have taken some mailboxes and vehicles, but he lived, we lived -- it definitely could have been worse,” she said. “It could’ve been worse, so hats off to the pilot. He flew the plan.”
News4Jax spoke briefly by phone Tuesday with the pilot, who said he was doing fine.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.