Belfast Telegraph

Three Northern Ireland people hurt after light plane crash-lands in US park

Two Irishmen were seriously injured after their plane narrowly missed an apartment building and crashed into a public park in Florida.

A third man and a teenage girl, also from Ireland, walked away with minor injuries.

People in St Petersburg’s Vinoy Park scattered and ran as they realised the small Piper Cherokee was heading straight for them yesterday morning.

It narrowly missed hitting the building, before descending rapidly, one of the wings ripping off as it hit a tree. Still in the air, it spun, sending debris across a wide area before crashing to the grass, bouncing and stopping near the water. No one on the ground was injured.

Police said all four on board were Irish citizens, with three reportedly from Northern Ireland. The pilot has been named as Grant Jordan (57). He and passenger Aloysius Ryan (52) were taken to Bayfront Health South, a nearby hospital, in a serious but stable condition.

Eamonn Harnell (48) and a 17-year-old girl sustained minor injuries.

The pilot's wife - Co Down woman Susan Clarke - told the BBC she was preparing to fly to the US.

She said she had spoken to her husband on the phone and his injuries were not life-threatening.

All four of those injured in the crash are members of the Ulster Flying Club.

Speaking to UTV the club chair, John Hughes, explained what happened.

"The FAA will investigate, but allegedly on approach to the runway somewhere at around 400 feet the engine stopped," he said.

"The pilot attempted to get the aircraft landed into a small park along the flight path into the runway, obviously with no engine he was not going to get to the airfield.

"But he nearly made it, only to catch the left undercarriage on a tree on the edge of the park."

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