Neighbors Save Pilot Being Choked by Seat Belt After Small Plane Crashes Into Whitpain Township Yard

"I heard gurgling in a bush and we found where the pilot was," one neighbor said

A pilot had to be cut from the wreckage of a home-built aircraft after the plane crashed into the front yard of a Whitpain Township, Pennsylvania, home Sunday afternoon, officials and witnesses said.

The single-engine VariEze-style plane went down just after 5 p.m. along Meade Road, police said.

Witnesses and police said the plane lost altitude shortly after takeoff and hit several trees before breaking apart on the front lawn of a home.

A pair of neighbors — Douglas DiSandro and Brian McShain — rushed to the wreckage and started searching for the pilot.

"I heard gurgling in a bush and we found where the pilot was," DiSandro said.

When they got into the bush, they found the pilot being choked by the plane's seat belt. The men lifted his body to relieve the pressure on his neck until another person brought scissors to cut him free.

"He relieved the pressure on his neck and he started gasping again," DiSando said.

Paramedics took the pilot, who has not yet been identified, to Penn Presbyterian Trauma Center in Philadelphia. Police said his injuries didn't appear to be life-threatening, but a condition was not available.

The development where the crash happened is 1½ miles from Wings Field, a small airport where the plane took off from Sunday afternoon.

Wreckage was strewn across the lawn and garden of 25 Meade Road. It appears the house was spared from being hit. There was a person inside the home when the crash happened.

"We're very fortunate that nobody got hurt on this scene. It's amazing," Whitpain Twp. Police Chief Kenneth Lawson said.

VariEze aircraft debuted in the 1970s and are a cheaper alternative to other popular small aircraft like Cessna or Piper, according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The planes are typically made of composite foam and fiberglass, the museum said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will visit the crash site Monday to launch an investigation.

Contact Us