SARASOTA—The pilot of an amphibian airplane has died and the passenger of a plane is being treated for injuries after the plane crashed at New College of Florida Saturday afternoon, according to authorities.
The pilot and passenger—both men—have not been identified, and the National Transporation Safety Board is investigating with the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
The plane was a Seawind 3000 that took off from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport after 3 p.m. and caught on fire when in crashed by New College's R.V. Heiser Natural Sciences Complex, SRQ Airport CEO Rick Piccolo told The Bradenton Herald.
The plane crashed at 3:31 p.m. on the campus and did not injure any bystanders, according to the sheriff's office.
One witness, Rich Parker, told The Herald-Tribune he saw the plane flying low and thought it would crash into power lines, but managed to avoid those. BUt after a popping noise, he saw the plane crash and catch fire, Parker told The Herald-Tribune:
“I couldn't believe how ferocious it was,” Parker said of the fire. Witnesses in the area reported seeing a big black cloud of smoke immediately following the crash, which occurred about 100 yards from a school building.
Parker said the pilot initially appeared to be alive and yelled for help but was overtaken by the fire. The passenger was on fire and climbed out of the plane, he said.
Parker said the passenger thought the plane hit a tree, but Parker didn't see any trees, he told WTSP. He said he was "shook up" after witnessing the pilot trying to get out of the fire.
"It's tough to see somebody reaching out for you [that] you can't do much about," he told WTSP.
The passenger is being treated for burn injuries at Tampa General Hospital, WWSB reported.