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Small plane makes hard landing in John Prince Park

Pilot taken to hospital, expected to survive injuries
Small plane lands at John Prince Park, Oct. 23, 2022
Posted at 4:51 PM, Oct 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-24 11:09:43-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The pilot of a small plane was taken to a hospital after making a hard landing Sunday afternoon in John Prince Park near Lake Worth Beach, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

The aircraft went down near Tim Granowitz Pavilion just after 4 p.m.

It appeared that the plane knocked down some tree branches and part of a fence before finally skidding on a road.

Several people said they heard the plane's engine go out and then saw it start to come down.

"You always see the airplanes coming over you, so we happened to see the airplane coming. I looked up and you heard this big, 'pop,'" witness Etius Coleman said. "As soon as you heard that ‘pop’ it went from flying straight and going level to just going crooked like that and just going straight down."

He knew he had to take action and call for help.

"As soon as I saw it coming straight down I just went ahead and called 911," Coleman said.

Etius Coleman, witnessed plane land at John Prince Park, Oct. 23, 2022
Etius Coleman described what he saw and heard when a small plane suddenly landed at John Prince Park on Oct. 23, 2022.

The loud noise startled many in the area, including Miguel Marquez, who was enjoying a picnic with his family.

"All I heard was the noise of the metal with the road, the friction, so that was all we heard," Marquez said. "The wooden fence cracked because of the crash."

After narrowly missing the lake, the plane came to a halt near the middle of the park. Video recorded by witnesses showed the pilot being helped after the landing, walking away from the plane.

The sheriff's office said he was taken to the hospital but is expected to be OK. No one else was injured.

Miguel Marquez, witnessed small plane land at John Prince Park, Oct. 23, 2022
Miguel Marquez was having a picnic with family members when a small plane suddenly landed at John Prince Park on Oct. 23, 2022.

"I hurried up and came around to make sure he was alright, and he was getting out of the plane already," Coleman said.

"He looked really shocked. He could like barely walk," Marquez said.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said the aircraft had four seats, but the pilot was the only one on board.

"He was pretty lucky because he didn't nose dive," Coleman said. "He was able to keep it level as he was going down, so he had to be a good pilot."

The Federal Aviation Administration said the cause of the crash is still under investigation, but it appears there was a fuel issue. It may have been a leak in the gas tank.