A Piper PA-31 crashed into a wooded area near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Sunday afternoon. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, all four passengers aboard the twin-engine plane were killed.
FAA officials say the pilot declared an emergency moments before the plane crashed into a nature preserve along the Cypress Creek Road, near the 2400 block of NW 62nd Street, northwest of the airport.
Rescue crews had difficulty maneuvering through the wooded area to get to the fiery crash. Fort Lauderdale Police said the plane did not hit any structures when it crashed. In March 2013, a Navajo light twin-engine crashed into some cars near the executive airport, killing all three aboard. No one else was harmed in that crash, and there were no occupants in the cars. The smoke and flames could be seen for miles.
#PlaneCrash: FLPD confirms aircraft landed in wooded area near the 2400 blk of NW 62 ST - (4) deceased occupants.— Fort Lauderdale PD (@FLPD411) April 12, 2015
#PlaneCrash: Aircraft did NOT strike any structures or pedestrians in the area. #FLPD PIO & @FAANews PIO are coordinating updates.— Fort Lauderdale PD (@FLPD411) April 12, 2015
Sunday’s crash was seen by several witnesses, who spoke of the plane’s wings wobbling. One witness said the plane took a nosedive before free-falling into the woods. Another witness told the Sun Sentinel that the plane dove sharply at a high speed before crashing and being engulfed in flames.
Some ran toward the plane to render help, but the fire and smoke made it impossible. Rescue crews had to close off Cypress Creek Road to extinguish the fire and get to those inside.
“A Piper PA-31 aircraft that was inbound to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport crashed into a nature preserve near the airport at 4:30 pm after declaring an emergency,” the FAA said in a statement. “Four persons were onboard. Check with local authorities who will release their names and conditions. The airport is open, but Runway 13 is closed due to its proximity to the accident site.”
Authorities say the names of the victims will not be released until they’re confirmed by the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office. According to the website FlightAware.com, the Piper PA-31 was heading into Fort Lauderdale Executive from Orlando.