3 people airlifted to hospitals after small plane crashes in Marathon

Injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, authorities say

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MARATHON, Fla. - Two people were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center and one person was airlifted to Jackson South Community Hospital Thursday afternoon after a small plane crashed in Marathon, authorities said.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said four people were aboard the Piper PA-32 when it crashed in a wooded area on the back side of Florida Keys Marathon International Airport.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac confirmed that the crash happened at 2:30 p.m. near runway 7.

Herrin said the plane caught fire, but the flames were quickly extinguished.

She said three people were taken as trauma alerts to the hospitals, but their injuries do not appear to be life threatening.

The Florida Highway Patrol was called to the scene to investigate.

FHP Lt. Kathleen McKinney said one of the passengers told authorities that the plane caught a gust of wind as they lifted off, causing the plane to be blown over into the tree line on the west side of the runway.  

She said DEP was notified because of a 90 gallon fuel spill. 

The airport's runways closed after the crash, but reopened at 4:25 p.m. 

The pilot, Roch Aoust, of Panama City Beach, and two of his passengers, Derrick Kelley, 53, of Auburndale, and Danny Gilileo, 49, of Aburndale, were identified as those who were injured in the crash.

The left rear passenger, Tony Lewis, 60, of Lakeland, suffered minor injuries and was not airlifted to the hospital. 

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the same plane struck multiple trees with its wings on Feb. 17, 2012, in Swainsboro, Georgia. 

In that case, the NTSB determined that the pilot failed "to maintain the proper glidepath during final approach," causing the plane to crash into trees.

The pilot told investigators that he was distracted by the red localizer antenna hazard lights, which were about 750 feet before the runway threshold.

The NTSB said the pilot was also flying too low, causing both wings to strike trees about 2,400 feet before the runway threshold.

The FAA will investigate Thursday's crash and the NTSB will determine the cause of the accident, Salac said.

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