Wallace and Kevin Watson were killed in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida airplane accident on Friday, news sources report. Another person, whose identity was not immediately available following the crash, was also killed in the accident. The ages of the victims have not yet been released. All three victims were on the plane when it crashed in a parking lot shortly after takeoff. The crash damages an unknown number of vehicles in the parking lot. Police are currently conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. It remains to be seen whether the manufacturing defect may have been at fault.
According to reports, the accident occurred sometime Friday afternoon at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Reports identified the wrecked plane as a Piper PA31 twin-engine turboprop. Wallace, his son Kevin, and another man were aboard the plane when it took off from the airport, turned sharply to the right, and plummeted into a parking lot on Northwest 53rd Court. “It was like pop, and the plane just went boom, right into the ground,” a witness, who was near the accident when it happened, told reporters.
The parking lot was being used as storage for repossessed cars, SUVs, and trucks, reports say. The fire caused by the airplane crash spread quickly through the vehicles. “The flame basically started cascading from one car to another,” a witness said. Witnesses also say a person drove off the lot in an SUV before the flames could reach it. More witnesses began to gather around the scene as the fire spread. “There [were] people all over the place,” a nearby business owner said.
Fire rescue units worked to extinguish the flames soon after the crash. Rescue teams put out the fire in under an hour, but the heavy black smoke pouring from the massive fire forced officials to close down nearby Powerline Road for several hours.
The FAA is currently conducting an investigating to determine the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board has also called in a specialist investigator to investigate the wreckage. It is not yet known whether crash was due to a mechanical malfunction or some other factor.
Small, private airplane crashes occur every year for a variety of reasons, ranging from technical difficulty to medical emergency. This is a fifth airplane crash to occur near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in the last decade, reports indicate. In June 2004, a similar Piper Archer airplane crashed into an auto shop less than a mile from the runway; the crash killed two of the three people on the plane. One year later, a DC-3 cargo plane carrying three people lost power after takeoff and crashed on Northeast 56th street. In that case, all three occupants of the craft survived the crash.
Despite the number of recent crashes, one nearby business owner is unfazed. “We see the planes flying over us all the time,” he said. “Do you think of them crashing? No, not really. I worry more about the cars on the street than the planes in the air.”