A small plane crashed into a house bordering a golf course in suburban Austin and burst into flames Tuesday, killing the six people aboard. Three people inside the luxury two-story home escaped unharmed.
Two children, their parents, a pilot and another person were killed after their plane refueled and took off from Lakeway Airpark just before noon, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman John Clabes said.
Witnesses said the plane apparently had engine trouble and could not gain altitude. The skies were clear in the area at the time of the crash.
“We just looked up and saw the aircraft and it was going slow, wings level,” said Bert Brown, a retired American Airlines pilot who was golfing with a friend when the plane crashed. “I saw him try to either make a left hand turn or stalling out. ... With that, he lost lift and crashed right into the ground.”
The five passengers were Curtis Treadwell, his wife Jennifer, their two young children, and Jason Jones, a business associate said. Treadwell and Jones owned Oklahoma businesses that sell manufactured homes.
The pilot was Richard Fisher, 36, the owner of Oklahoma City-based Aviation Flight Specialists, The Oklahoman reported on its Web site Tuesday night.
Laurence and Jacqueline Elliott, along with an appliance repairman, were in the house but managed to escape, said Ellen Roberts, a friend of the Elliotts. She said Jacqueline Elliott described the scene as “an inferno.”
The house, which backs up to the Hills Country Club golf course, is less than two miles away from Lakeway Airpark, a private airport created by the community’s residents.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said she did not know where the plane originated, but witnesses at the airport said it was headed to Oklahoma City.
Ann Lowe, 19, who lives across the fairway from where the plane crashed, said she heard the plane fly low over her house and then saw it disappear below the treeline. She ran outside, heard screams and then noticed her neighbor’s house.
“I felt the heat and heard windows exploding in the house,” she said.
The plane hit a 3- to 4-foot retaining wall between the home and the golf course, then plowed into the home’s patio area. The plane’s cockpit lodged in the charred back of the house and small pieces of it littered the yard.