On Tuesday afternoon, a plane that had just taken off from Paine Field lost altitude, caught on fire, and crashed onto a busy road in Mukilteo. The crash was captured on a dashcam and witnessed by drivers on the road.
A video of the incident captured on a driver’s dashcam shows the plan appearing to fly very low, apparently losing altitude. It clips a power line by the side of the road, igniting a fire that quickly engulfs the small craft in flames. Drivers at the scene quickly got out of the way so emergency vehicles could get to the plane.
Amanda Hayes, one of the drivers at the scene, told reporters that the plane had flown so close to her vehicle that its wing scraped the top of her car. "I just said, 'Get down!' And before I know it, I could feel the heat on my face... and like the fireball and the wing clipped at the end. When it was over, I wasn't sure if we were OK, if our van was OK. I don't know, that's probably the closest I've come to really thinking, 'oh this is the end.' "
Police estimate that the plane was approximately 500 feet in the air when it lost power. The pilot was attempting to find a clear spot to land when he clipped a traffic signal and a power line, rupturing the plane’s fuel tank and spraying burning fuel on a vehicle below.
(Image: Firefighters at the scene of the crash. This image was taken by the Mukilteo Police Department, which included a caption saying “Plane down no injuries.” Later news reports state that two people had minor injuries; one was treated at the scene and another was transported to a local hospital. Image source: The Mukilteo Police Department’s Twitter Feed)
A happy ending after a crash landing
Emergency responders raced to the scene to find a single-engine Piper PA32 sitting on Harbour Pointe Boulevard. Despite the dramatic explosion and crash, two people suffered only minor injuries, and the plane’s pilot reported no injuries. Witnesses saw the pilot and a passenger walking away from the crash.
The plane came down close to a gas station, a hotel, and Mukilteo's City Hall; even a few more yards of travel in the air could have resulted in a deadly crash. Power was briefly knocked out to several nearby homes and businesses, but was restored within an hour.
The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into what caused the crash. The plane is registered to Klamath Aviation LLC, an Oregon-based company owned by a pilot registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. The pilot is cooperating with investigators but has not yet spoken with reporters about the crash.