BARTOW, Fla. — Two people were killed as their plane crashed into the front yard of a home on Weston Road in Bartow. 

  • Victims ID'd as Bonnie Powell, 73, and Dennis Powell, 76
  • Crash happened around 11:30 a.m. Thursday

The crash occurred around 11:30 a.m. Thursday just outside the Bartow airport's property line.

Officials said the plane was set to land at the airport when it went down. The two people on board were killed, according to fire rescue. No one on the ground was injured.

"The plane was in communication with the airport and was intending to land. There were no unusual or warning communications from the airplane," said the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Fire rescue said there was no fuel leak or fire when they arrived on scene.  

The victims were identified as Bonnie Powell, 73, and Dennis Powell, 76, of Port Orange, Fla.

They were flying in a single-engine, fixed wing land-based plane.

Area resident tried to rescue passengers

Christopher Hernandez and April Merrill, who live on Weston Road, are used to seeing planes coming and going from the nearby airport, but they never expected to see this.

Shortly before noon, they said they noticed the Powells' aircraft having problems.

"Heard a plane kind of like sputtering and then heard nothing, then you heard stuff coming in the trees real quick and right after that was the plane and it was just a big 'boom,'" Hernandez explained.

Merrill, who used to be a firefighter, said she rushed over to try to help.

"As soon as I looked at them, there was nothing that I could do, nothing at all," she said. "We come back home and I looked at him and I'm like, 'I wish I could save them, I wish I could have saved them, you know, but I couldn't."

Officials said there was damage to the home's driveway and an oak tree in the yard, and damage to the front chain-link fence. A window of a vehicle in the neighborhood was shattered when debris from the plane hit it.

As investigators process the crash scene, witnesses are processing the loss.

"You know, there's people who care about them and now their whole life is just gone in the blink of an eye," Merrill said. "And it really goes to show you how quick you can lose your loved ones and your life."

"You know, they trusted that plane when they got in that plane," she added. "They trusted it and it let them down, literally."

The National Transportation Safety Board will be handling the investigation going forward.