Dramatic CCTV footage has emerged showing a small plane crashing into a Florida therapy centre for young people with autism.
The two people aboard were killed and children and teachers had to “run for their lives” after the the Cessna 335 veered into the building and exploded into a fireball on Saturday afternoon, Sky News reports. The six-seater plane had taken off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport moments before, adds regional broadcaster Local 10 News.
Witness Kyla Robinson said: “As soon as it happened, it was literally in flames. It happened that quick. There was nothing anybody could do. Just flames. That’s all it was.”
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Officials say that eight teachers and five children were in the building when the plane crashed, but that they all escaped without injury.
Claudia Axelrod, regional director of the company that runs the centre, Positive Behavior Supports Corporation, told how staff members jumped into action as the roof began to collapse. “They felt the building shake, and they thought it was a car that probably hit,” Axelrod said.
“Quickly, the door began to catch on fire, so they grabbed each child. The person in charge started to shout, ‘You have this one, you have this one,’ to make sure that everyone was accounted for.”
Police later confirmed that the pilot, 55-year-old flying instructor Eladio Marquez, and his passenger, one of his former flight school students, were both killed.
Marquez, from New Jersey, had declared an emergency shortly after take-off, telling air traffic control: “We got a fire in left engine, turning right back.
“We’re losing power in our left engine, we turning right back.”
His wife, Belkis Marquez, told NBC News that he was an “excellent pilot” and had “never had another accident”.
She added: “It’s so difficult for me and for my little son. Everyone loved him and he loved everybody.”
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