Plane Crash Lands After Takeoff at Victoria Regional Airport
When Tara Snell felt the ground beneath her shake and when she heard a rumbling sound in the air, she wasn’t alarmed.
The deafening whoosh of planes landing and departing isn’t new to her. After all, she works right next to the airport.
Saturday morning wasn’t any different at the Dorothy O’Connor Pet Adoption Center where she works – until the receptionist gasped over the intercom, demanding all workers to rush to the lobby.
A small white plane with a crisp blue stripe crashed in the open field across the road from the office.
“We all just took off running (toward the plane),” Snell said.
Outside the aircraft, a man was lying in the grassy field. Another man was trying to pull himself out of the plane and was bleeding.
The pilot was stuck inside the plane.
By the time the group ran across the field to the plane, one of the passengers was drifting in and out of consciousness.
The light utility corporate aircraft carrying three men crashed about 10 a.m. in a field near the Victoria Regional Airport, said Trooper Jesse Ray Chavana of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Jose Acosta said he had never encountered a plane crash before, but when he saw how the men needed help, instinct just kicked in.
He knew he had to help. “It didn’t look good,” he said.
Some of the adoption center workers ran back to the office to get water, but Acosta wasn’t going to leave the injured men’s sides.
He had to keep them talking. “I didn’t want to hear silence,” he said.
Injured were pilot Burnl Wilkerson, 58, of Houston, and passengers Sajib Rupollia, 30, of California, and Daniel Nghien, 50, of Houston.
All three men were transported to Citizens Medical Center.
Wilkerson was later flown to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Rupollia was flown to University Hospital in San Antonio, and Nghien was treated and released, said hospital spokeswoman Shannon Spree.
Roland Herwig, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City, said the plane’s engine lost power soon after it departed the Victoria airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.
Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the NTSB, said the investigation would take weeks, if not months, to complete and that additional information was not available Saturday.
The fixed-wing multi-engine aircraft, which was manufactured in 1974, is registered to a Wyoming company, according to the FAA.
Hours after the crash, the workers were still visibly shaken but happy they were around to help the men.
“I was just doing what I could,” Acosta said.