An airplane taking off from the Springfield-Branson National Airport in Missouri came very close to hitting a van that crossed the runway. The driver of the van was late for an employee barbecue.
The incident took place on June 27. Fox News reports that the newly released security footage shows a dark-colored van crossing the runaway in front of an Envoy Air jet carrying 53 passengers and crew. The plane and the van were mere seconds from a collision that might have had a tragic ending, but no one was injured as result of the near-miss.
In a report on the incident, the driver of the van is identified as Jim Brown. He is an employee at the same airport where the near-crash took place. He was taking two other people to the barbecue when he decided to cross the runway.
“I decided that due to the time limitations we would cross the runway in order to make it in time,” Brown wrote in the report. “Just as I had cleared runway 20 the Ground Controller cleared me to cross runway 14, I repeated back cleared to cross runway 14 and proceeded at a high rate of speed (to minimize time on the taxiway and runway) down taxiway Uniform.”
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“I honestly cannot say for sure that I looked both ways or how far down the runway I might have looked.” Browns admitted, though he claims that he normally looks both ways before crossing a runway. If it hadn’t been for the person sitting in the passenger seat screaming out in terror, he would not have seen the plane on the June 27.
“I accelerated across the runway and heard the aircraft overhead just as we were leaving the runway surface,” Brown added, painting a frightening picture of what the people in the van experienced.
Though Brown immediately reported the incident to his supervisor, there is an investigation underway. On Wednesday, the airport confirmed that the National Transportation Safety Board is part of the team looking into the matter. An internal review is also underway.
“The airport takes safety very seriously. As such, we are reviewing internal operating procedures that may have contributed to this incident,” Kent Boyd, spokesman for the airport, said in a statement on the event. “The driver of the van is an airport employee. We cannot comment further because the incident is under investigation and in addition, we do not comment about personnel matters.”