‘The plane just fell out of the sky’
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 October 3, 2012 4:40PM
Updated: November 5, 2012 11:41AM
GARY — An eyewitness to Wednesday’s fatal plane crash said she heard its engine sputter before the plane disappeared into a wooded area near a charter school and Fire Station No. 9.
“It sounded like the motor was cutting off, the plane just fell out of the sky,” said Frances Guyton-Ward, who lives in the 700 block of Clark Road, across from the West Gary Lighthouse Charter School.
Guyton-Ward said she was outside talking to her daughter when she saw the plane approaching. “It sounded like a car that wouldn’t start. After it crashed, it was still exploding,” she said.
Guyton-Ward’s next-door neighbor, Louis Hatch, didn’t see the plane crash, but he heard an explosion.
When he came out of his house, Guyton-Ward told him a plane had crashed.
He rushed to the scene, even before first responders arrived, he said. “When we reached the tree line, you couldn’t see anything but smoke, I didn’t see a wing, a tail or any plane part.”
Fire Station No. 9 has been closed about two years because of the city’s budget woes. A neighbor said an ambulance occasionally parks there, but it wasn’t there Wednesday morning.
Still, neighbors said it took only about 5 minutes for first responders to arrive.
Hatch said there was a fire on the edge of the woods. “It was a mangled mess. It smelled like fuel and burned plastic.”
Hatch said he saw a body in the woods that appeared to be a male.
By now, Hatch said police had arrived on the scene and there was another explosion. “It was like ‘pow-ping, pow-ping,’” Hatch said.
Jeannie Greer, a nurse at the West Gary Lighthouse Charter School, said she heard a boom shortly after 11 a.m.
“The next thing I know, one of the teachers said he saw a plane swaying in the air.” She said some students with classrooms in the rear of the school witnessed the crash, as well. “There was a lot of black smoke.”
Principal Kenneth McCants said the school went on lockdown and parents began calling. “We didn’t have any kids outside, but we made sure no one went out. We weren’t in any danger. ”Some staff members heard a boom and thought it was thunder.”
McCants said school dismissed about 30 minutes early, and because of the emergency vehicles closing Clark Road, students had to walk to their buses parked in the Commons shopping center lot.
Another neighbor, Katrina Harper, was inside her home watching television.
“Jerry Springer had just come on, so I know it was just after 11. You could hear a ticking noise and then a boom. I went to see if anything crashed. I looked out front and saw smoke. I thought that it was the school at first,” she said.