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September 30, 2012 12:10 am


Authorities have not identified the two people killed in Saturday's plane crash in River Heights mobile home park in Spotsylvania. The accident occurred about 5:10 p.m. as the plane was taking off from nearby Shannon Airport. lo093012Crash3.jpg

A plane from Shannon Airport crashed on takeoff into a nearby mobile home park Saturday, killing two onboard. lo093012Crash2-2.jpg

Residents of River Heights were drawn to the accident scene after a plane crashed in their mobile home park.


A plane crash in Spotsylvania County near Shannon Airport claimed the lives of two people Saturday evening.

As of press time last night, Virginia State Police had not identified the pilot or passenger, although authorities think they lived in the Fredericksburg area.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a plane--a single-engine Cessna 150M--climb sharply on takeoff from Shannon, only to pitch forward and nose dive into the trees at the end of Carrie Court in the River Heights mobile home park. No one on the ground was injured, and no homes were damaged in the crash.

But it was a close call. The blue-and-white plane was a crumpled mass at the end of the street, mere feet from a trailer home and only inches from a blue van parked in the trees at the edge of the blacktop.

There are several houses within about 100 feet of the crash site. One of them belongs to Kevin Morgan, who was pulling up to his home shortly after 5 p.m., when he heard a loud noise.

"As I was putting the car in park, the plane came down," he said. "I saw the plane hit the ground."

Morgan said that he immediately ran to the wreckage and moved branches to get to the victims. He reached into the plane and touched one of the victims, only to find there was no pulse.

He noticed fuel pouring from the twisted plane and backed away.

"It was clear and evident there were no survivors," he said.

About 10 minutes later, fire department vehicles arrived.

About 30 minutes after that, the scene at Carrie Court did not seem, at first, to be unusual for a clear, cool Saturday evening. There were kids on bicycles, scooters and skateboards.

But there was also police tape, holding back the curious and concerned, some of them unable to get into their own houses.

Beyond the police tape were flashing lights, state police cars, Spotsylvania fire trucks, ambulances, rescue workers, firefighters and police officers.

Floodlights made up for the setting sun. And there were two stretchers, empty.

Then there was the plane, recognizable only by the rumpled tail that slouched over a pile of white metal.

"I saw it take off," said Jason Ison, who was at the Wawa across Tidewater Trail from the neighborhood where the plane crashed. "It looked like it was going up at a little too much of a steep angle."

"We heard the engine, then nothing," said Patricia Roberts, who lives in River Heights. "Then we heard a big explosion."

But there was no explosion of the Hollywood variety--no fire at all, although some residents of Carrie Court said they could smell the fuel from the wreck.

Roberts said she recognized the plane from years of living under the airport's flight path.

"His engine is always loud," she said.

Renee Johnson was in her kitchen when it happened.

"It hit the trees. It happened so fast," she said.

Her husband, Douglas, ran out the door and was soon climbing over the wreckage to look for signs of life. He didn't find any.

Robert Stanley, the operations manager at Shannon Airport, confirmed that the plane was housed there. He said that the owner of the Cessna, a Woodford resident, was not in the plane when it crashed.

Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036


Yesterday's fatal crash is believed to be the first at Shannon since 2006, when a plane crashed into a field on the southwest side of the airport.

The pilot, who was alone in the plane, was practicing takeoffs and landings and was killed on impact.

Before that, the last fatal accident at the airport is believed to have been in 1980, when a skydiver died.

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