PICKENS COUNTY—A plane crash could have spelled disaster for four passengers on Sunday, but safety features on the aircraft kept them out of harm’s way.
A small single engine Cirrus plane crashed near the Pickens County Airport, but quick response time and a parachute attached to the plane’s airframe cushioned the fall.
“Yesterday a little bit before 5 p.m. we received a call at the Sheriff’s Office from the air tower over in Greer,” said Captain Keith Galloway with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. “They had been contacted by a plane that was having some engine trouble. It had left from another state and was in the area experiencing an engine stall.”
The pilot was going to try to make an emergency landing at the Pickens County Airport.
“The pilot saw that he was not going to make it to the airstrip, so he deployed the parachute and actually floated the plane down in a small wooded area about two miles from the airport,” said Galloway
The plane landed near Brazil Road next to the old Department of Motor Vehicles.
“It landed in a stand of trees and was about 15 or 20 feet in the air,” said Galloway. “Emergency crews responded and utilized some ladders to help the people down.”
After about an hour and a half, help reached the stranded passengers and they were lowered to safety. Everyone walked away with minor bumps and bruises.
“All four of them were okay. One of them was transported to Easley (Hospital) and the other was transported to Greenville (Hospital),” said Galloway. “Two declined medical attention on scene and were treated and released. No one sustained any life-threatening injuries which was great.”
Galloway says the result could have been much worse.
“We were blessed,” said Galloway. “We could have been facing a terrible tragedy yesterday, but I think there’s no doubt that the safety feature on that aircraft probably saved those four individuals’ lives.”
One firefighter was taken to Baptist Easley for heat exhaustion, while a female passenger was transported to Greenville for headaches and nausea. Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack says he still does not understand how no one was seriously injured.
“I still don’t believe it,” said Womack. “Coming from 9,000 feet in the air, I can’t believe they were okay.”
The names of the passengers have not yet been released, and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.