Police chief: 'Parish came together' to respond to plane crash

FOX44
Saturday, June 8, 2013 - 8:00am

Federal aviation investigators are returning to the scene of a deadly plane crash Saturday morning.

They chose to come back at 8:00 a.m. after spending Friday afternoon and evening trying to determine why a small plane crashed after just a couple miles in the air.

Around 1:00 p.m. Friday, a King Air B200GT took off from the Baton Rouge airport. Just a couple minutes later, it crashed into three homes on Rue Nicole and Rue Jennifer, causing violent explosions and setting two of them on fire.

One man died in the crash, but officials believe it could have been much worse.

"One of our officers actually saw the plane in trouble, saw it go down, and the smoke," said Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps. "[The officer] directed our officers. They started trying to locate there. Then we got calls from the neighborhood to identify where it was."

Most of the neighborhood was shut down while firefighters and police officers rushed to the scene. They found the body of the plane's pilot, John Fowler, 71, from Brookhaven, MS. One of the homes had two people inside at the time, but both got out okay.

"Thank god no one on the ground was injured, none of the residents were injured," East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreau said.

Sheriff Gautreau and Chief Knaps could only recall two other plane crashes taking place in Baker.

"And living in close proximity to the airport, those things cross your mind," Gautreau said. "Even as a little kid it did with me, and me and [Knaps] both. But thank god, these are very, very rare when we've had anything like this."

They praised the work of the neighbors who went into the burning homes, as well as city and parish firefighters and law enforcement, for keeping the damage to a minimum.

"You know, we write these things down on paper and we do drills on how everything's supposed to work," Knaps stated. "The parish came together on this one." 

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