Saturday, August 31, 2002

Jet crashes at end of runway, 1 killed

By The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON - One person died in a fiery crash Friday when an air ambulance careened off an airport runway and plunged onto a busy highway.

        The Lear jet crashed at the end of the runway while trying to land at Blue Grass Airport, authorities said. It plunged down a hill and onto U.S. 60, striking a coal truck.

[photo] Emergency personel examine a Lear jet which crashed Friday.
(Associated Press Photo)
| ZOOM |
        Killed in the crash was Louise Babb of Fort Myers, Fla., one of five people aboard the jet, authorities said.

        Three other passengers on the plane, one female and two males, were in serious condition at the University of Kentucky Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. Their names were not released.

        The pilot was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital with unspecified injuries, hospital spokesman Jeff Murphy said. The pilot's name and condition were not released at the request of his family, Mr. Murphy said.

        The coal truck driver and two other passers-by who came to the assistance of those on the plane were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, authorities said.

        Eyewitness Jennifer Shearer, a writer for The Winchester Sun, said the plane “appeared to be flaming” as she saw it in her rearview mirror.

        Officials said the ambulance was operated by Care Flight International. The company's Web site claimed a 100 percent accident-free safety record in more than 7,000 flights since its founding in 1983.

        “We know that there was an incident, but we don't have any details at the moment,” Carol Sweeney, flight coordinator for St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Care Flight, said Friday.

        Joseph Riley, Lexington assistant fire chief, said the passengers included a female patient and her husband.

        The crash happened at 1:07 p.m. The airport was shut down for about two hours following the crash, and some flights were diverted to Louisville International Airport.

        The Lexington airport reopened Friday afternoon, but U.S. 60, also called Versailles Road, was expected to remain closed until today. The airport is across the road from Keeneland Race Course.

        As it crashed, the plane sheared off part of a navigational tower, plunged down the hill and came to rest along the westbound shoulder of the highway with its nose pointing east. The rear half of the aircraft was charred.


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