NAPLES, Fla. — Two people were killed after a private jet crashed and caught fire on Interstate 75 in southwest Florida on Friday afternoon, according to the Collier County Sheriff's Office.
The Florida Highway Patrol said the crash occurred near mile marker 107, Pine Ridge Road, in Collier County at 3:15 p.m.
While trying to land, the Bombardier Challenger 600 jet with five people aboard collided with a vehicle, authorities said.
Collier County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Adam Fisher confirmed two deaths but said he didn't immediately know whether the victims had been passengers on the plane or were on the ground.
Audio recordings involving the pilot and an air traffic controller at the Naples airport indicated that a runway was cleared for the jet to land, but there was not enough time.
"Yeah, we're cleared to land, but we're not going to make the runway," the pilot could be heard on the recording. "We've lost both engines."
Images from the scene showed the plane fully engulfed in flames. The fire was extinguished by 4 p.m.
Both southbound and northbound lanes of I-75 were closed for hours.
Data from FlightAware shows the plane took off from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at 9:35 a.m. and arrived at a Columbus, Ohio airport at 11:57 a.m. It then left Ohio State at 1:02 p.m. and was expected to arrive at the Naples Airport at 3:12 p.m. The aircraft was then scheduled to leave Naples at 4:30 p.m. and land at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at 4:51 p.m.
Brianna Walker saw the wing of the plane drag the car in front of hers and slam into the wall.
"It's seconds that separated us from the car in front of us," she said. "The wing pulverized this one car."
Walker and her friend spotted the plane moments before it hit the highway, allowing her friend to pull over before the crash.
"The plane was over our heads by inches," she said. "It took a hard right and skid across the highway."
Walker said an explosion of flames then burst from the plane with a loud boom. Pieces of the plane littered the highway.
"It feels unreal, like a movie," she said. "It was seconds between us dying."
According to the FlightAware aircraft tracker, the plane was operated by Hop-a-Jet Worldwide Charter based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The aircraft had been scheduled to fly back to Fort Lauderdale Friday afternoon. Hop-a-Jet did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.
A spokesperson for Ohio State University said the aircraft is not affiliated with the university, and they had no further information about it.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, with the NTSB leading the investigation. One NTSB investigator arrived at the crash site Friday afternoon, with several more expected to arrive on Saturday. They will document the scene and examine the aircraft, which will then be taken to a secure facility for further evaluation. A preliminary report about the cause of the crash can be expected in 30 days.