2 released from hospital after seaplane crashes in Palatka backyard

Pilot, passenger suffered minor injuries, troopers say

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

PALATKA, Fla. - Two people were injured Tuesday afternoon when a single-engine plane clipped a tree, a power line and the roof of a home before crashing on Reid Street, just outside Palatka, authorities said.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said a good Samaritan who witnessed the crash drove the pilot and the passenger to the Putnam County Medical Center.

The pilot -- Larry Putt, 70, of Augusta -- and the passenger -- Jan Edwards, 66, of St. Augustine -- both suffered minor injuries, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. They were released from the hospital several hours later.

Troopers described the aircraft as a single-engine Escapade seaplane that was on approach to Kay Larkin Airport at 2:36 p.m. when the plane lost power and started to descend. 

The plane, which Federal Aviation Administration records show is an experimental aircraft manufactured in 2007, landed in the backyard of a house near the intersection of State Roads 100 and 17, only a block from the airport.

IMAGES: Small plane crashes in backyard
LISTEN: 911 call reporting plane crash

No one was at the house when the plane crashed. Pamela Hughes, who rents the house, was at work when she got a phone call about it. 

"They said the plane had crashed in my backyard and I'm like, 'What?'" Hughes said. "Thank God I wasn't home when this happened and the people in the plane were able to walk away."

She later learned the plane had hit the roof, leaving a hole in it.

"(It) scared me a little bit the way the message was saying the plane crashed into the house. I flew over and said, 'Oh my God. What happened?' ... I was worried about who was flying the plane," property manager Tom Harvey said. "It looks to me like it landed on the roof then bounced back off and, at that point, hit the power line and broke the mast off."

A next-door neighbor who was home at the time described the sound of the crash.

"It was like a boom," Magnolia Denson said. "My husband went to the bathroom and he said, 'I be damned. It's a plane back there.'"

FAA investigator on scene Tuesday night.

The pilot and passenger returned to the site of the crash about 7:30 p.m. after being released from the hospital. The pilot spoke to an FAA investigator who had arrived at the scene as an mechanics dismantled the plane.

Before the pieces were taken to Kay Larkin Airport to be further examined, News4Jax photographer Jerry McGovern found a gold earring belonging to the passenger of the plane. She said earlier that she was looking for it because it had sentimental value. The earring was handed to a member of the recovery crew, who will alert the owner of the plane. 

The FAA investigator will turn over the findings to the National Transportation Safety Board, which will then take over the investigation. News4Jax did some background checking and learned the pilot survived a 2013 plane crash in South Carolina.

This was the second small plane crash in Putnam County in just over a week. On Feb. 27, authorities said, two men were killed when a single-engine 2016 Quest Kodiak 100 aircraft crashed into the St. Johns River in southern Putnam County. The cause of that crash is still under investigation.

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