Plane Lands on Florida Turnpike, Two Hurt


A plane crash on Florida's Turnpike that sent two people to a hospital early Wednesday afternoon caused a traffic nightmare through the evening rush hour.

The northbound lanes of the Turnpike were shut down at the Golden Glades Interchange, but were re-opened after the evening rush hour.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane had left the Opa-Locka Executive Airport on a maintenance flight just after 1 p.m.

The pilot, Alain Jaubert, 49, of Julos, France was returning to North Perry Airport when for an undetermined reason had to make an emergency landing on the Turnpike, Florida Highway Patrol said. Jaubert made the crash landing, missing oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes.

"It was a tremendous effort on the pilot's part to bring it down and not get anybody hurt. I guess kudos to him," said Chief Virgil Fernandez, of the Hollywood Fire Department.

A representative of North Perry Airport said the pilot of the Socata TBM 700 plane signaled an emergency to the control tower before landing on the Turnpike.

Jaubert and his passenger, Donato Pinto, 50, of Aventura, were taken to Memorial Regional Hospital. Officials said the two men suffered minor injuries, and they were in stable condition Wednesday afternoon.

Donato Pinto, 50, of Aventura was a passenger on the plane

"We've had other occurrences like this, whether it be on Alligator Alley, U.S. 27, the Sawgrass Expressway, where the planes have attempted landings on the interstates or turnpike system," said Sgt. Mark Wysocky, of the Florida Highway Patrol. "It is amazing that nobody was injured and no other vehicles were struck."

Fire officials said there were no injuries to people on the ground, and no other property damage was reported.

"It's amazing that no other cars were involved at this time as far as we know," Wysocky said.

Firefighters worked to keep the 800 pounds of fuel aboard the 2-ton plane from igniting. Hollywood firefighters were at the scene within minutes of the crash, first fighting off flames, then laying down a blanket of foam to try to keep fumes from the plane's fuel supply from spreading. Firefighters then spread an absorbent substance similar to kitty litter to soak up the fuel.

Salvage crews loaded the plane onto a truck so they could transport it to a parking lot at Sun Life Stadium, where they planned to take the wings off so it would be easier to transport through the streets of South Florida.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were on their way to assess the situation.

Records show that the plane's most recent trip was from New Jersey to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The plane is registered to a company in Coconut Grove, but Local 10 has not been able to contact company representatives.

Drivers were stuck in the gridlock for hours after the crash. One driver in the southbound lanes said he had been stuck in traffic for about an hour and a half before that side of the Turnpike was reopened. At 6 p.m. Wednesday, about five hours after the crash, the northbound lanes of the Turnpike remained closed, although the plane had been removed and the roadway was nearly clear.

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