A small plane crashed Friday afternoon near Tampa International Airport.
According to Tampa Fire Rescue, it happened around 1:23 p.m.
There were three men on board the Piper Cherokee, and officials say they were all outside the plane by the time the first Tampa Police officer arrived at the scene. All three were rushed to the hospital as trauma alerts with second to third degree burns. Two suffered broken bones.
No one on the ground was hurt.
“It’s amazing. It’s miraculous…There were no injuries to people on the ground, minimal damage to property in the area,” Tampa Fire Rescue Spokesperson Jason Penny said during a news conference.
He explained that the pilot had radioed a distress call to air traffic control, and fire rescue personnel were staged on the runway in anticipation of an emergency landing.
An airport spokesrson said the plane had taken off from Zephryhills.
On scene of small plane crash at corner of Nassau and Ward. Three patients transported as trauma alerts. More details to follow. No injuries on the ground. pic.twitter.com/LseOEdBYKU— Tampa Fire Rescue (@TampaFireRescue) December 18, 2020
The crash happened less than a mile from the airport, not far from two schools – Jefferson High School and Roland Park Magnet. Hillsborough County Schools told Spectrum News neither school will be disrupted.
Tampa Fire rescue says the plane struck a power line, and several outages were reported. TECO shut off power to the surrounding area while crews make repairs.
Electrician Leonardo Dominguez shot video and you can hear him say he's willing to risk his life to rescue the people inside that plane.
“We need to go see if anybody needs help,” he said.
“Wow, wow, wow, they got them out already."
"Oh, they got them out?"
Dominguez says other witnesses pulled the men from the burning plane just in time.
"Oh, they're heroes. One more second and they would've been dead because that flame was getting bigger by the second, and it was popping and electricity was falling in there. They're blessed I would say,” he said.
Witness Steven Oliver said he saw the men who were in the plane and they were badly burned and injured.
"There were three other guys off to the side and they were just on the ground. They were unconscious and one had a lot of blood all over him and people were tending to them,” Oliver said.
Dominguez says it looked like the pilot was trying to land on Ward Street North when he clipped some power lines.
“He was trying to get it right dead center, and once he lost a little bit of control that was it,” he said. “He hit that line and that was the explosion right there. It's a blessing though that they didn't die and that it didn't hurt anybody else. It could've been a lot worse."
Police said the men are 58, 24 and 23 years old. They are listed in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. At least two of the men also have broken bones, authorities said.
The NTSB has been notified and will take over the crash investigation.