Four Dead After Two Planes Collide on Runway : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Mar 9, 2000 - 06:14 PM

Four Dead After Two Planes Collide on Runway

By Pat Leisner Associated Press Writer

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - Two small planes collided on a runway at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport Thursday, killing four people in a fiery explosion, officials said.

The single-engine planes each carried two people, said Pat Cariseo, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington.

A controller had cleared one of the planes for takeoff from one of the airport's two runways, Cariseo said.

At the same time, the other plane requested permission to position the aircraft and hold on the same runway, a normal procedure before taking off. Controllers granted the request.

What happened next is not immediately clear, Cariseo said.

The planes, a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 172, collided at 10:37 a.m., airport spokesman Jim Naiman said.

No one on the ground was injured.

"There was a big fire, so everyone went out there," said Rosalie Radtke, a secretary for Sarasota Avionics, located about a quarter-mile away. "All the guys saw was a big ball of fire."

Officials identified two of the victims, but did not release their names pending notification of relatives.

J. Kevin Drake, an attorney for Cirrus Aviation Flight School, said that though they have not been officially notified, "we fear that it is an instructor and student. We fear the worst." Drake refused to identify the instructor and student.

Investigators were interviewing six eyewitnesses, some of whom gave conflicting statements about the accident, said Dave Bristow, a spokesman for Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Bristow said there was a "tremendous impact followed by tremendous fire." One plane is a massive wreck and almost nothing remains of the other aircraft, he said.

"We've been able to see four victims, but we've not gone in and moved things around," said Bristow.

Local officials did not want to disturb the wreckage before the NTSB arrived, he said.

The agency has asked for a specialist in air traffic control to look at the role of the control tower in the accident, NTSB investigator John Lovell said at a brief news conference.

That specialist will join Lovell and another Miami-based NTSB investigator at the crash site.

The airport, about 50 miles south of Tampa, handles general aviation, domestic jet service and international charter flights from Canada. The airport handles 1.5 million passengers a year. Miami International Airport, by comparison, has about 34 million passengers a year.

Officials closed one runway after the crash, but it may reopen late Thursday evening, Naiman said.

This is the second crash at the airport in the last 24 hours. A single-engine aircraft had trouble with its landing gear and belly landed at the airport Wednesday. There were no injuries in that incident.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 10, 2000

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