No injuries occurred in the 10:30 a.m. mishap. There were four passengers on board, including the pilot and co-pilot. They are members of the Angel Flight program, a non-profit organization that transports financially strapped medical patients to hospitals.
They were returning a woman to Decatur from Houston, where she had undergone treatments and surgery for mouth cancer.
“We dropped her off here – kind of a little harder than was planned,” said pilot Mark Moran of The Woodlands.
Moran and his co-pilot and neighbor, Peter Perez, have done as many as 50 of these missions together.
Moran said he was coming in too fast on the landing, and he tried to lift up again at the end of the runway to come around for another approach but was afraid he would not be able to clear some utility lines stretching high past the end of the runway.
“I was coming in too hot, so I tried to go around for another approach, but I didn’t want to hit the wires,” Moran said. “It was my fault. I didn’t give myself enough runway.”
“They came down and bounced up and down on the runway a couple of times,” said Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins. “He thought he was going to run into those wires if he tried to go back for a second approach at the runway.”
Instead of attempting to take back to the air, Moran veered left off the end of the runway and crashed through a barbed-wire fence. The Beechcraft Bonanza came to rest in the middle of the street at the intersection of Cemetery and Greenwood roads. Barbed-wire was wrapped around the silver blade of the propeller, tangled around the front landing gear and cut through the right wing.
Although Moran was upset he’d crashed the plane, his quick actions to stay on the ground and steer left, rather than try to clear the power lines, might have prevented serious injuries or worse. All four occupants of the aircraft were out and walking within moments of the accident.
Planes continued to take off and land in the background as members of the Decatur Fire Department doused the area with foam, covering fuel that had leaked from the plane.