Witness uses garden hose to put out fire on plane crash victim
Columbus Police Lieutenant Matt Myers
COLUMBUS, IN (WAVE) - A garden hose was used to put out flames on a victim after the plane they were in crashed into a Columbus, Indiana home around 9:30 a.m., according to witnesses.
Planes taking off and landing aren't of any concern to the people around the Broadmoor neighborhood. Because the homes are located about two miles southwest from Columbus Municipal Airport planes a common sight. But on this morning there was one plane in particular caught Julieta Waggoner's attention.
"I noticed there was a plane was flying very low," said Waggoner.
Waggoner said she then heard the sound of a crash, but thought it was a car.
"When I look outside and I saw a humongous thick cloud of smoke in the sky and I thought oh I knew it the plane must have crashed," said Waggoner.
It did. The single engine, privately owned plane with pilot Gerald Clayton, 81, and passenger Dennis King inside went into the back of the house where Hiroko Nakao was in the bedroom finishing up the laundry.
"Suddenly I heard a sound," said Nakao. "What happened? I saw the backside I have a patio, it was broken."
Then Nakao heard another sound and the windows to the living broke.
"I grab the telephone and I go out because it was dangerous in the house," Nakao said. "I called my husband."
"I didn't believe it," said Tadashi Nakao, Hiroko's husband. "I thought it was a joke, but she sounded very serious."
Behind the Nakao home working in the neighbor's yard were two AT&T workers who knew just how serious she was.
"I seen the plane go down and we could hear there was something going on," said Tim Tague. "I could see the white smoke and by the time I got to the house and knocked on the door nobody answers. I saw (co-worker) Pat Reagan helping somebody sitting down underneath the tree."
The person Reagen was helping was one of the men that was inside the plane.
"I took off from my truck across the street to the back of the house and found the gentleman wandering around disoriented, on fire, bleeding from his head," explained Reagan. "I broke down the fence in the backyard. He was trapped in the backyard with the plane so I busted the fence down and ushered him out away from the plane. We got a water hose and got the fire off him."
Still able to talk when police arrived King told police, "'Thank God that I'm still alive.' He was more concerned about his friend than he was himself," explained Columbus Police Lieutenant Matt Myers.
Clayton and King were flown to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis where police said they are being treated for severe burns. Police also said one of the victims was being treated for a head injury. Hiroko Nakao escaped her home without a scratch.
Myers said Clayton had just taken off from Columbus Memorial Airport when the plane crashed. The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating why.