MARIETTA, Ohio (WCMH) — Two people died Tuesday morning after a plane leaving Columbus crashed into the parking lot of a Marietta, Ohio car dealership, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
An eyewitness video shows large, dark plumes of smoke and a large fire at the dealership. You can see that video in the player below.
OSHP confirmed that a pilot and a passenger on the aircraft died when it crashed into the Pioneer Buick GMC dealership parking lot in Marietta at 7:15 a.m. The agency later identified the victims as:
- Timothy F. Gifford, 49, of Orient
- Eric S. Seevers, 45, of West Virginia
Gifford was a Columbus firefighter who retired in May, according to a spokesperson with the Columbus Division of Fire.
OSHP did not say which of the occupants was piloting the plane, and Federal Aviation Administration records indicate that both men had commercial pilot licenses. OSHP did add that no one on the ground was hurt.
“I just hustled in here real quick to see what was going on just to see how bad it was,” said Rod Taylor, the general manager of the dealership. Taylor told NBC4 that the dealership doesn’t open until 8 a.m. and that only one person was in the building at that time. Taylor said he was on the other side of the building.
He heard the explosion and the fireball but other than that fortunately it happened earlier,” said Taylor.
The FAA confirmed that the aircraft was a twin-engine Beechcraft BE9L, a small plane that can seat up to 10 people. The federal agency said the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating as well.
Taylor confirmed the crash resulted in 12 cars being damaged, with eight to the point of beyond repair. He said the vehicles are replaceable but the people are not.
“Feel blessed that none of my people got injured that’s for certain but like I said I feel bad for the pilot and co-pilot, or pilot and passenger, whatever it was, you know, their families. It’s a tragic day,” Taylor said.
A spokesperson with John Glenn International Airport confirmed that the plane took off from CMH at 6:39 a.m. A FlightAware tracker indicated the destination of the plane was the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
OSHP in southeast Ohio said the crash affected traffic on State Route 7 between Interstate 77 and Browns Road. The City of Marietta’s official Facebook page said that SR 7 reopened as of 9 a.m.
Marietta is right along the Ohio River on the border between Ohio and West Virginia. View the plane’s flight path before it crashed in Marietta in the RadarBox record below: