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One dead in Rusk County airplane crash

By Meredith Shamburger
Jan. 31, 2017 at 5:21 p.m.
Updated Jan. 31, 2017 at 7:25 p.m.

Officials work the scene Tuesday evening after a plane went down in Rusk County and killed the pilot.

RUSK COUNTY — A pilot was killed Tuesday after Rusk County officials said a small airplane clipped a tower and crashed just west of the Carlisle community.

The identity of the person and the owner of the plane are being investigated, said Rusk County Office of Emergency Management Public Information Officer David Chenault.

“Everything was burned,” he said. “Everything was burned real bad.”

The plane went down about 3:45 p.m. on CR 497, and Chenault said officials think it hit a wire off a tall, metal tower. Witnesses who saw the crash reported it was flipping and spinning, Chenault said.

Pedro Garza, speaking through a translator, said he was outside feeding his goats when he heard an airplane making a funny sound.

“It was just coming straight down,” he said.

About 30 seconds after the plane hit the ground, it exploded, Garza said. He said he ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911, but by the time they went back to see whether they could help the pilot, the fire had grown too dangerous.

Ximena Lares was headed home at the time of the crash when her husband texted her to say something had fallen down behind her brother’s house and caught fire.

“Something had fallen; there was booming and a big fire,” Lares said.

The plane crashed about 200 feet behind Lares’ house. By the time she got there, the plane had started to spark and boom.

“The fire was going big,” she said. “I got scared thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to get the house.’ ”

Carlisle firefighters, Henderson firefighters, Rusk County Sheriff’s Office officials and the Texas Department of Public Safety arrived at the scene immediately after the crash.

“It was a crumpled mess,” Chenault said of the airplane. “There’s not a whole lot of it left.”

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified, and the incident remains under investigation. FAA and NTSB investigators are expected to be at the scene this morning to determine the cause of the crash.

Chenault said officials do not know where the plane was headed.

Rusk County Justice of the Peace Darlene Childress pronounced the pilot dead at the scene. The body was taken to Crawford A. Crim Funeral Home in Henderson.

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