Commercial Aircraft sidebar: Indiana Firefighters Respond to Jet Crash

SOUTH BEND, IN, MARCH 19, 2013 – At approximately 4:30 P.M., the South Bend Fire Department was notified by the South Bend Airport Authority of an inbound jet experiencing landing gear issues. The fire department has a mutual aid agreement with the airport for emergencies.

Responding units were enroute when the fire first-due fire companies saw the aircraft nose-diving into a neighborhood adjacent to the airport’s runway. Crews re-routed and arrived on scene to find the aircraft had crashed directly into a home and damaged two others. Crews were immediately faced with several issues, including the safe extrication of the homes’ occupants and that of the passengers. There also was the threat of structure collapse due to the extensive damage and the likely threat of a jet fuel ignition, which occurred shortly after crews initiated a primary search. The fire was quickly extinguished and the search and rescue continued.

After all residents were accounted for and the jet’s passengers were extricated, the pilot and co-pilot were found to have sustained injuries too grievous to sustain life. The jet’s two passengers were rushed to a local trauma center, where they were admitted for several weeks before returning home. Remarkably, there were no other deaths or injuries. One passenger was a retired Oklahoma fire captain.

Responding units included, but not limited to, South Bend Engines 7, 11, 4, 2, 1, 3 and 6; Quints 7 and 1; Truck 6; Rescue 1; Medics 2, 3, 4, 5 and 11; Battalion Chiefs 102 and 103; MABAS District 2 Tac; and the South Bend Airport Authority.

Tony Schelske/SBFD