Pilot Killed As Plane Strikes Building Just After Takeoff Passenger, Two On Ground Hurt In Crash Into Business Park

TUESDAY, AUG. 5, 1997

The pilot of a small private airplane was killed Monday when it slammed into a building shortly after takeoff.

A passenger was taken by a Life Flight helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland and was in critical condition.

The silver single-engine plane took off about 11:20 a.m. from Evergreen Airport in east Vancouver. It went down just a quarter-mile away, splitting into several pieces as it crashed into the back of an industrial building.

Two workers at the business, Controltek Inc., were hurt when a man inhaled fumes from the fire and a woman inside the building was hit by falling debris.

The business, located at the Stonemill business park, was evacuated because fuel from the plane was leaking into the building, said Vancouver Fire Chief Dan Fraijo.

One of the people on the plane was believed to be giving the other a flying lesson. Other details weren’t available, and the victims’ names weren’t immediately released.

Witnesses said the plane was traveling westbound from the airport and was banking left when it hit the building and caught fire.

“There were flames everywhere,” said Leisha Till, 21, who was outside taking a break from classes at a school in the business district when the crash occurred.

“A bunch of people grabbed the tail and pushed it up to get pressure off the guy,” said Till’s friend Linda French, 26. “He was screaming for help. It’s something you never want to see.”

Witnesses said the plane’s engine wasn’t making any sound when it made a nosedive into the building. One of the plane’s wings lay on top of the roof, and the tail section rested at a 45-degree angle upward, wedged between the ground and a wall.

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