Pilot killed, passenger injured in Leesburg plane crash

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LEESBURG, Fla. - One person was killed when a small plane crashed in Lake County Monday.

Authorities said the Piper PA31 went down around 3 p.m. in a wooded area along Dennis Road, about three and a half miles away from the Leesburg Airport.

Airport officials said the plane was not scheduled to land there Monday, but that the pilot initially contacted them requesting an emergency landing claiming the plane ran out of gas.

"There's a lot of stunt planes that come out here, they practice above the lake there," said resident C.C. Caldwell.

Residents who heard the crash, said they thought the plane was doing stunts before the crash, because it made a similar noise that stunt planes practicing at the Leesburg Airport make.

"The engine will cut off," said C.C. Caldwell.

Witness Alexis Caldwell said, "This time, it didn't cut back on and we heard the motors silent."

"It never cranked up and I just heard it crash," C.C. Caldwell said.

Neighbors on Dennis Street said they heard the plane go down from inside their homes.

"I heard an unusual sound like something crashing," said resident Beverly Swank. "There was no smoke, there was no fire."

The pilot died, but a passenger, who witnesses said is a woman, was flown to Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

WFTV found the plane is registered to a couple from Crescent City in Putnam County.

Fellow pilots and friends of the couple told WFTV the husband and wife are the only one who fly the plane. Airport employees said the owners' family also called to see if they landed there, but officials wouldn't confirm if the couple was on the plane.

Jeff Gonzales arrived at the crash site right after rescue crews.

"Paramedic happened to tell me 'I think there's two people in there and one happened to decease,’ and he said he did a fine job laying it down and saved one life," Gonzales said.