On a Florida Highway: 'Unreal, Like a Movie'

Business jet crashes into vehicle on I-75 in Naples, killing 2
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 10, 2024 6:30 AM CST
On a Florida Highway: 'Unreal, Like a Movie'
Florida Highway Patrol troopers are seen at the scene of a small airplane landing on southbound Interstate 75 in Naples, Florida, on Friday. The plane collided with a vehicle as it made an emergency landing.   (Florida DOT/The News-Press via AP)

Two people have died after a business jet attempted to make an emergency landing on Interstate 75 in southwest Florida on Friday afternoon, colliding with a vehicle and bringing traffic to a halt as a massive plume of black smoke rose into the air. The crash landing happened near the Pine Ridge Road exit in Collier County, just north of where the interstate heads east toward Fort Lauderdale along what's known as Alligator Alley. Brianna Walker saw the wing of the plane drag the car in front of hers and slam into the wall. "It's seconds that separated us from the car in front of us," she said, per the AP. "The wing pulverized this one car." Walker and her friend spotted the plane moments before it hit the highway, allowing her friend to pull over before the crash. "The plane was over our heads by inches," she said. "It took a hard right and skid across the highway."

Walker said an explosion of flames then burst from the plane with a loud boom. Pieces of the plane littered the highway. "It [felt] unreal, like a movie," she said. The Federal Aviation Administration identified the aircraft as a Bombardier Challenger 600 jet and said five people were aboard when the crash happened around 3:15pm ET. The plane had taken off from an airport at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, at about 1pm and was scheduled to land in Naples around the time of the crash, Naples Airport Authority spokesperson Robin King said. A pilot had contacted the tower requesting an emergency landing, saying they'd lost both engines. The tower lost contact, and then airport workers saw the smoke from the interstate just a few miles away. King said they sent fire trucks with special foam to the scene, and three of the five people on board were taken from the wreckage alive.

A Collier County Sheriff's Office rep confirmed two deaths but said he didn't immediately know whether the victims had been passengers on the plane or were on the ground. Per the FlightAware aircraft tracker, the plane was operated by Hop-a-Jet Worldwide Jet Charter, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The aircraft had been scheduled to fly back to Fort Lauderdale on Friday afternoon. Hop-a-Jet didn't immediately respond for comment. An OSU rep said the aircraft isn't affiliated with the university. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The Florida Highway Patrol said in a news release that the southbound lanes of the interstate were closed and advised motorists to seek alternate routes.

(More plane crash stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.