Plane crashes in Detroit backyard, narrowly missing school and park
"We were expecting the worst but no one's injured," Police Chief James White said
By Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
DETROIT — As early spring nights go, Wednesday was pretty extraordinary for Nicholas Pulliam, who watched in awe, then horror as a small plane made a crash landing in his east-side neighborhood.
The two people aboard sustained minor injuries, authorities said.
"It was moving very slow through the air," he said of the single-engine plane that crashed through trees and into a backyard on the 12000 block of Duchess near Britain Avenue at about 8:45 p.m. "... I've never seen something like that, like up close, it was like slow motion in my mind because I'm like, 'Is that a plane? A baby blue plane just flying on Morang."
The plane shimmied between the trees and two garages, knocking tree limbs onto a garage and coming to rest wedged between the building and a gate.
Pulliam was sitting on his porch, watching children play when the plane "hit some trees and you could see that when it exactly landed it was like 'boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
"... We ran in the backyard and everybody was just trying to help make sure everybody was OK."
The incident left Detroit's police and fire chiefs marveling at how little damage was done. The plane narrowly missed a school and a park, and the children playing, they said.
"We were expecting the worst but no one's injured," said police Chief James White. "There's no fuel spill ... no power lines are down."
The residents of the home where the plane crashed "are OK but shaken up, as you can imagine," White said.
The pilot, he said, did "an amazing job" landing the plane.
"We don't know yet what caused him to lose control or if it was an engine failure. I don't want to speculate," White said. "But he's up and walking; his passenger is up and walking."
White said the passenger compartment of the plane collapsed on impact.
"... I don't like to use the word luck but no one got injured, no one got hurt, no chemicals spilled," said Fire Chief James Harris.
"It was just one of those fortunate situations."
Bill Scruggs has lived in the neighborhood since 1986, he said, and he watched as first one police cruiser, then another and another sped past on what he thought was a chase.
"I'm thinking routine traffic stop," he said. "Not uncommon in this area ... come to find out it was an airplane crash.
"... Over 30 years of living in this area, I have never experienced anything of this nature."
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to investigate the crash, White said.