Tampa Bay Times
Two people were killed when a small plane crashed onto Interstate 75 in Collier County on Friday afternoon, according to The Associated Press.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Adam Fisher confirmed the two deaths to the AP, but said he didn’t immediately know whether the victims had been passengers on the plane or on the ground.
In a news release sent just after 3:30 p.m., the Florida Highway Patrol said a “small airplane” landed on southbound I-75 near mile marker 107 at Pine Ridge Road.
“In landing, the airplane collided with a vehicle,” the news release states.
The Federal Aviation Administration identified the plane as a Bombardier Challenger 600 jet and said it crashed about 3:15 p.m. Five people were on board, the FAA said.
The FAA said the plane’s registration number was N823KD. FAA records show the plane was registered to East Shore Aviation LLC in Fort Lauderdale.
According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, the plane was operated by Hop-a-Jet Worldwide Charter in Fort Lauderdale. It had taken off from the Ohio State University at 1:02 p.m. Friday and was set to land at Naples Municipal Airport at 3:12 p.m. It had another flight scheduled to Fort Lauderdale at 5:10 p.m.
A spokesperson for Ohio State University told The Associated Press that the aircraft is not affiliated with the university, and they have no further information about it. Hop-a-Jet did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment from the AP.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said all southbound lanes of I-75 were closed at mile marker 111 and all northbound lanes were closed at mile marker 105. The sheriff’s office said the closures would last at least 24 hours.
Brianna Walker, 26, told the AP that she witnessed the crash. The wing of the plane dragged the car in front of hers and slammed into the wall, she said.
“It’s seconds that separated us from the car in front of us,” she said. “The wing pulverized this one car.”
Walker and her friend saw the plane moments before it hit the highway, allowing her friend to pull over before the crash.
“The plane was over our heads by inches,” she said. “It took a hard right and skid across the highway.”
Walker said an explosion of flames then burst from the plane with a loud boom. Pieces of the plane littered the highway.
“It feels unreal like a movie,” she said. “It was seconds between us dying.”
This is a developing story. Check tampabay.com for updates.