Pilot, passenger ID'd in DeLand plane crash into Publix; 911 calls reveal chaotic scene

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DELAND, Fla. - A man is heard yelling "Get out! Get out!" in 911 tapes from the crash of a small experimental plane into a DeLand Publix grocery store that left five people injured.

"I'm hearing it. I've got the store on line and I hear people screaming, 'Get out! Get out!" said the dispatcher.

The plane had just taken off from the DeLand Municipal Airport when it suddenly lost power and crashed into the Publix in the Northgate Shopping Center on International Speedway Boulevard on Monday evening. 

"Oh my God, an airplane just went into the Publix, oh my God," said a caller.

Emergency dispatch tapes released Tuesday captured the panic as customers fled the store a day earlier. The plane came through the roof of a Publix supermarket in DeLand, about 40 miles north of Orlando.

Five people were injured in the crash, including the pilot, the co-pilot and three people who were inside the Publix, WFTV learned.

WFTV learned that Kim Presbrey was the pilot of the airplane, and is a prominent attorney from Chicago, Illinois.

Presbrey and his passenger, Thomas Rhodes, remain in serious condition.

Of three shoppers injured, one is in stable condition and the other two were released from the hospital.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Senior Air Safety Investigator Luke Schiada said the plane was a Sea Wind 3000 that seats four people.  

Schiada said the plane was taken out in pieces, and officials were inside the Publix documenting the wreckage.

"The majority of the airplane was consumed by that fire," he said. "There will be a preliminary report available in about a week."

Schiada said that the plane did not appear to have a black box, but it may have been equipped with a GPS-type device.

"The majority of the wreckage spans across two isles," Schiada said. "The propeller is partial melted, but visible."

Hospital officials at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the pilot and co-pilot were in critical condition.

One of the shoppers, Brandon Beitler, had severe burns to his leg.

"Publix, 911, someone is on fire in Publix, and um…oh God," said a caller.

The other two shoppers were released from Florida Hospital DeLand with minor injuries, officials said.

WFTV talked to shopper Lisa Cordova just hours after she was released from the hospital overnight.

"It was so loud, and I mean I just knew instantly something very, very bad had happened, but you didn't know what," said Cordova.

Cordova said that she was about to leave when she heard the explosion.

"It was just like somebody came up from behind me and like pushed me through the air," Cordova said.

Cordova was almost out of the meat isle, so she only escaped the flames by a couple seconds.

However, Beitler was not as lucky.

“Then this other guy came flying out and his leg was all on fire and skin melting off and stuff.  He was just screaming for people to help him,” she said. "I was trying to help him, but I had no idea what to do to help him."

"What's on fire?" asked the dispatcher.

 "A person!" replied the caller.

WFTV talked to Beitler's father, Douglas Beitler, outside of ORMC overnight.

"He said it was like a Harrison Ford movie. It was just reaction, and all of a sudden, the hair on his arm is singed from the fire going past him,” said Douglas Beitler.

Cordova said Beitler would have been in worse shape if two people did not rush over to put out the flames burning through his leg.

Volunteer firefighter Lester Petrovich said he was next door at a Lowes store when he saw the crash and he ran over to help.

"I wasn't going to leave that young man to burn alive inside that building. There was just no way," said Petrovich.

Cordova said she is grateful to be home, but even more grateful everyone made it out alive.

"It's pretty amazing," Cordova said.

The store is structurally sound, but likely won't be re-opening anytime soon.

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