The National Transportation Safety Board Friday (Jan. 18) issued its first preliminary findings from its ongoing investigation of the Jan. 4 plane crash in Seminole Woods that claimed the life of three people and demolished a house.
But other than the revelation that the pilot had reported zero oil pressure in the plane moments before the crash, the 370-word report, which appears in full below, adds no information that hadn’t already been gleaned and publicized by investigators in the 48 hours after the crash. That’s not unusual NTSB investigations can take up to a year.
The plane crashed into the house owned by Susan Crockett at 22 Utica Path shortly after 2 p.m. that Friday, after the pilot of the plane, a Beechcraft H35, identified as N375B, had reported vibrations in the propeller and the engine when relaying information to the Daytona Beach airport. The pilot, Michael Anders, was a Spanish teacher at a school in Kentucky, where he lived. The plane was traveling from Fort Pierce to Knoxville Downtown Island Airport, not far from Anders’s Kentucky home. He lived in an airport community.
“At 2 miles from runway 29, no further transmissions from the airplane were received,” the NTSB report states, referring to runway 29 at the Flagler County Airport. The pane crashed a mile from the runway, clipping a pine trees’ limb before crashing into the rear of the house. Anders was traveling with Duane L. Shaw, a 59-year-old friend from Albany, and the friend’s girlfriend, Charisse Peoples, 42. The trio had gone to the Virgin Islands to house-sit a house over the Christmas holidays.
Anders, the report states, “reported that the engine oil pressure was zero with ‘cool cylinders.'”
The plane as if dropped from the sky into the house on Utica Path: the walls of the house are still virtually intact, all around. The point of impact into the house was the roof’s almost dead-center, even though the house at its back is ringed by very tall pine trees, suggesting that there was a sudden, catastrophic drop of altitude for the plane.
Early Friday afternoon, Marc Dwyer, the Palm Coast attorney representing Crocket, held a news conference with Crockett at Dwyer’s office in Palm Coast’s Town Center. Dwyer said he’d been fielding numerous calls after the NTSB report was published, and that, on behalf of Crockett, he wanted to address media questions for good, but also note that he and Crockett would no longer answer questions for now, barring significant new developments in the investigation.
“It’s time for her to really start putting the incident behind her, but it’s causing her trouble,” Dwyer said.
Crockett reiterated how thankful she was for the community’s supportive response, telling the story of one man in particular who gave her his Christmas gift card–a gesture emblematic of many people’s generosity. Crockett also credited “the Holy Spirit,” she said, for looking over her and, as she described it, intervening at the key moment to keep her looking for a pair of footwear in one room, rather than go in another–where she would have been under the nose of the place, and likely joined the fatalities.
Crockett is staying at Royal Palms, an assisted living facility in Bunnell, and has been unable to return to work (she is a teacher trainer). She is not eager to return to the property on Utica Path. “At this point she has not made that decision, but in her heart at this stage she feels the answer is no,” Dwyer said, “she doesn’t want to be anywhere near that location, and sounds of loud noises are making her jump. Sounds of airplanes are causing her anxiety.” She is still traumatized, Dwyer said.
In the NTSB report, Dwyer said, “there was only one thing that wasn’t absolutely clear on the day of, and that was having to do with his mentioning to the air traffic controllers there being no oil in the engine.” The detail is significant on two counts. To Crockett, “she already was very visceral and sympathetic for the pilot and his companions who ended up losing their lives,” Dwyer said. The detail may possibly give her “the comfort of knowing that it wasn’t entirely his error.”
From a lawyer’s perspective, Dwyer said the details opens “a whole new can of worms” because “that may tell a story of whether this accident could have been avoided.” The question now is why had the oil pressure run to zero, Dwyer said–whether from a leak, a lack of proper maintenance, or other factors. “From her lawyer’s standpoint, it absolutely raises other questions and a trail that has to be followed before this is resolved.”
Crockett has been relying on the benevolence and generosity of friends, family, and her Calvary Baptist church members, who’ve come out in large, supportive numbers. A fund was established at Intracoastal Bank, the Susan B. Crockett Relief Fund, to help her.
NTSB Identification: ERA13FA105
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 04, 2013 in Palm Coast, FL
Aircraft: BEECH H35, registration: N375B
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On January 4, 2013 at 1419 eastern standard time, a Beechcraft H35, N375B, was destroyed when it impacted a house during a forced landing in Palm Coast, Florida. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Saint Lucie County International Airport (FPR), Fort Pierce, Florida, and was destined for Knoxville Downtown Island Airport (DKX), Knoxville, Tennessee. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to preliminary air traffic control voice communication information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted Daytona Approach control, and reported vibrations in the propeller and engine. The FAA Daytona Approach controller advised the pilot that the airports in the area were instrument flight rules with cloud ceilings of 900 to 1000 feet above ground level. The pilot received radar vectors for an airport surveillance radar (ASR) approach to guide him to runway 29 at Flagler County Airport (XFL), Palm Coast, Florida. The ASR was not a published approach, however the pilot did hold an instrument rating. Several minutes later, the pilot reported that the engine oil pressure was zero with “cool cylinders.” Radar vectors from Daytona Approach continued and the pilot was cleared to land. At 2 miles from runway 29, no further transmissions from the airplane were received.
According to witnesses, the airplane was visually observed on final approach at an unusually low altitude. About 1 mile from the approach end of runway 29, the witnesses lost sight of the airplane behind tall pine trees.
The accident site was located about 4,200 feet southeast of XFL. The initial impact point (IIP) was identified as a tree with broken limbs, with various components of wreckage extending from that point on a heading of 288 degrees magnetic for 50 feet. Following the IIP, the majority of the airplane impacted the roof of a detached single family home and a large fire ensued, which destroyed most of the airplane and dwelling.
The airplane wreckage was moved to a nearby storage facility for examination. An engine examination will be conducted at the manufacturer’s facility at a later date.