Broward News

Key West Airport Gets Another Crash Landing; Investigators Already There From Last Crash

For the second time in four days, a plane somehow managed to crash on the Key West airport's only runway.

Add in a $165,000 embezzling scheme and a drunk guy making bomb threats and you've got one hell of a two-week stretch at the Key West International Airport.

Shortly after noon yesterday, a twin-engine Cessna Citation 550 crash-landed onto the runway, but none of the five people was hurt.

Luckily, employees from both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were already at the airport investigating the plane that crashed off the runway on Monday night.

That Gulfstream 150 jet was carrying former NASCAR driver and current team owner Rick Hendrick and three other people -- including the crew -- when the brakes wouldn't work upon landing, the plane finally coming to rest 800 feet off the runway.

All four of the people onboard were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, and some fuel leaked out of the plane. Police estimate that less than 300 gallons of that fuel made its way into a pond adjacent to the crash.

Those crashes are in addition to the other events that happened during the airport's hellacious two-week stretch, which included 32-year-old Texas resident Darren Tonner drinking a bit at one of the airport bars, getting into a fight with his wife, and deciding he didn't want to get on his flight to Miami -- so police say he just called in a bomb threat.

A sheriff's deputy who got word of the argument between the two was escorting Tonner to his luggage when the deputy heard on his radio that someone had called the Key West Police Department saying, "There's a flight between Key West and Miami, and someone onboard has explosive ordnance."

The caller -- later identified as Tonner -- had phoned in his message and then hung up and didn't pick up his phone when the dispatcher attempted to call him back, police say. He told police that his phone was in his back pocket and that he had "misdialed" and claimed he was just having a regular old airport chat about explosives.

Then there's the embezzlement, in which police made an arrest of an airport restaurant employee after they say more than $165,000 went missing off the books.

On September 26, the owner of the Conch Flyer Restaurant called the cops saying he believed one of his employees has been stealing money from him since January 2010.

The three people with key access to the cash deposits were 42-year-old David Imbaro, who's worked there since November 2009, and the bookkeeper and her husband, who have both been there since 1994.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says the only time money didn't go missing since January 2010 was when Imbaro went on vacation for a month in August.

They also noticed that when Imbaro was arrested by Key West Police in May on a drug charge, they recovered $40,000 in cash from a safe in his home.

Imbaro told the cops at the time that he had just sold his bar in Miami, which police discovered to be a bar that never existed.

Imbaro was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center yesterday on a grand theft charge and was being held on $150,000 bond.

That's one hell of a two-week stretch for a one-runway airport.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley