Five Killed In Florida When Cessna 310 Hits Houses


Two days after a Cessna 310 crashed into an Orlando, Fla. neighborhood, investigators were probing the possibility that an in-flight fire caused the crash. As of late Wednesday, the NTSB said it has thus far found no clear indications of mechanical problem with the aircraft, but air traffic controllers told investigators that the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and declared an emergency. The aircraft left Daytona on Tuesday at about 8:35 a.m. and crashed just minutes later, killing both people on board and an adult and two children on the ground. Three other people were seriously burned in fires that affected nearby houses. The pilot, who had departed from Daytona Beach and was headed for Orlando, reported smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, and was attempting to land at Sanford Airport when the crash occurred about a mile or two north of the runway, according to reports from the NTSB and Associated Press. Dr. Bruce Kennedy, 54, of Daytona Beach, Fla., husband of a NASCAR official, and Michael Klemm, 56, a pilot for NASCAR Aviation, were on board. The victims on the ground were identified as law student Janise Joseph-Woodard, 24; her 6-month-old son; and their four-year-old neighbor, Gabriela Dechat, according to the NTSB. The little girl’s parents, Milagros Dechat, 33, and Peter Dechat, 36, were seriously injured, in addition to a 10-year-old boy, whose name has not been released. Ryan Cooper, a firefighter who lives nearby, was off duty on Tuesday and was in the driveway with his wife when he saw the Cessna crash into two houses and start an intense fire. He grabbed his gear and entered both houses, rescuing at least two of the victims.

During a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon, NTSB Vice Chairman Robert Sumwalt said, “A cursory examination of the engines and the propeller assemblies has revealed no obvious mechanical anomalies or deficiencies. We are conducting a slow, detailed examination of the flight controls.” He noted that all major aircraft components have been accounted for at the crash scene, and “the engines have been removed from the site and taken to a facility at the Sanford Airport and during the next few days they will undergo a detailed examination.” According to Sumwalt, “At this time, there is no obvious sign of what may have caused possible in-flight smoke or fire. However, this is the very beginning of the investigation.”