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2 people killed after plane goes off runway, crashes into water at North Palm Beach County Airport

Single-engine aircraft broken apart in water, WPTV Chopper 5 video shows
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Posted at 2:35 PM, Jul 10, 2024

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Two men were killed Wednesday after a single-engine aircraft went off a runway and crashed into a body of water at North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport, authorities confirmed.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said the aircraft, identified by federal authorities as a Piper PA28, crashed into the water just before 2:15 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was departing when it crashed into a marsh area at the end of the runway. At least one investigator from the NTSB arrived at the scene just before 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

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In a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Tom Reyes discussed the difficulties that rescue crews faced.

He said a Palm Beach County Sheriff's helicopter crew first spotted the plane's submerged fuselage, helping rescuers on the ground locate the aircraft.

"There was probably 15 to 20 feet of knee to waist-deep muck that our divers had to go through before there was enough water where they could actually swim," Reyes said. "They said the aircraft was in about 20 feet of water."

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Using a rescue basket on the sheriff's office helicopter, Reyes said the two men were removed from the water and brought to shore.

Reyes said they were treated at the scene and then taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The sheriff's office confirmed that both occupants of the plane were pronounced dead upon arrival.

WATCH: Chopper 5 video of plane crash at North County Airport

2 people taken to hospital after plane goes off runway, crashes into water at North Palm Beach County Airport

The airport is located at 11600 Aviation Road, west of Palm Beach Gardens.

“It’s very sad, it’s horrible," stated resident Jill Cohen. Neighbors who live in the La Terre neighborhood reacted to the fatal accident.

“It’s definitely scary it’s not every day you hear about a plane crash in the area or any area that I’ve lived in before," stated resident Jackson Faulknor.

Aerial video from WPTV Chopper 5 showed multiple pieces of the aircraft broken apart in the water.

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A small plane crash at North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport, located at 11600 Aviation Road, west of Palm Beach Gardens, on July 10, 2024.

"Once on site, the investigator will begin the process of documenting the scene and examining the aircraft," the NTSB said in a statement. "The aircraft will then be recovered to a secure facility for further evaluation."

Witnesses to the crash or those who have surveillance video or other information that could be relevant to the investigation are asked to contact the NTSB at witness@ntsb.gov.

In May, WPTV reported on a plan to extend the runway at North County Airport from 4,300-6,000 feet, and also widen the runway from 75 feet to 100 feet, to allow larger aircraft to take off from and land there.

A separate plane crashed in a wooded area at the same airport in 2020, sending seven people who were aboard the aircraft to the hospital.

The airport opened in 1994 and is often used by smaller and mid-sized aircraft as an alternative to Palm Beach International Airport.