Houston Plane Crash Leaves Three Dead

Donna Brown - Author
By

Jun. 10 2016, Updated 12:24 p.m. ET

A small plane crashed into a car today in Houston, leaving three people dead. It started off as an emotional trip to see the father of the two men on board and the father-in-law of the woman in the hospital at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Jerry Gray and his brother Tony Gray, along with Tony’s wife, Dana Gray, were the three people on board. Apparently Mrs. Gray was piloting the single-engine Cirrus SR-22 aircraft when it went down. The trio had left this morning from Norman, Oklahoma and arrived in Houston around 1:00 p.m.

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The aircraft was attempting to land at Houston’s William P. Hobby airport, but attempts were unsuccessful. According to a report by Houston KPRC Channel 2, there was some initial confusion in the communication between the pilot and air traffic controllers who were attempting to help her land about which runway to use. Initially, the pilot asked the air traffic controller where to turn to initiate her landing and was told to “maneuver back for the straight in.” He told her he didn’t know which way she was going at that moment but told her to turn back around to runway 35. She confirmed she was following his instructions and apologized for the confusion, and the controller responded, “That’s okay, we’ll get it.” The control tower continued to give instructions and apparently told her the aircraft was too high to land and told her to go around again. The audio of the pilot communicating with the air traffic controller was provided by Live ATC. The plane was equipped with a motor used to deploy a parachute when needed. The motor did deploy as intended, but the parachute never did. Houton Fire Department Captain Ruy Lozano explained the situation.

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“A lot of these aircrafts have parachutes that will deploy on impact. Well, that parachute’s system is still intact so we’re always worried after impact it could go off spontaneously. That’s why we asked everyone to move back.”

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He went on to say that there was no threat of any type of fuel spill that might lead to a fire or explosion. He said the impact killed all three passengers on board the plane but didn’t cause any further injuries. The plane actually crashed on top of a car in the parking lot of the Ace Hardware less than a mile from the airport. The plane didn’t crash into the building, and, fortunately, there was no one in the vehicle at the time of the crash, Lozano told reporters. Channel 2 later reported on their evening broadcast that the car belonged to the manager of the Ace Hardware.

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Witnesses of the crash said the plane appeared to have fallen from the sky and dropped to the ground. The owner of a resale shop, Susan Conklin, was in her shop across the street from the Ace Hardware store when the crash occurred. She told Fox News that after the crash, she “didn’t see any movement from inside the plane” and that “people didn’t immediately rush to the plane over concern it might explode.”

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“There was a great big loud noise, like a bomb and a real screechy noise. When I looked out I saw the plane in the parking lot… It was scary.”

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Jay Evans, spokesman for the Houston Fire Department, said the plane crashed just after 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Ace Hardware store in the southeastern part of the city. It was less than a mile from the airport, not far from the runway the air traffic controllers had cleared for the pilot to land. She apparently had great difficulty, being told on more than one occasion how to realign the aircraft for a safe landing. She was at first trying to land on Runway 3 but the plane was too high. She tried again but the same thing happened. It was after that when she was instructed to land at Runway 35, which was when the crash occurred. ABC13 reported that at one point, just before the crash, the air traffic controller called out, “Ma’am, ma’am, straighten up! Straighten up!”

The cause of the crash is still unknown. The National Transportation Safey Board will be in charge of the investigation. The plane was registered in the FAA registry to Safe Aviation, LLC in Moore, Oklahoma, and was manufactured in 2012. Safe Aviation couldn’t be reached for comment. The flight is said to have departed from Norman, Oklahoma at 10:11 a.m. The plane crashed into the car, leaving all three dead, just after 1 p.m.

[Photo by Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock Images]

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