John Bubel: Treasure Coast pilot killed in Okeechobee plane cras - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

John Bubel: Treasure Coast pilot killed in Okeechobee plane crash

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Investigators with the FAA and NTSB are continuing to investigate what caused a plane to crash in Okeechobee Friday morning.

The pilot, 62-year-old John Bubel, was killed in the crash. No other passengers were on board.

Investigators say Bubel picked up the Zenith model plane in Homestead Friday and was flying it back to his home in Okeechobee.

His neighbor, Bryant Culpepper, says Bubel has decades of experience flying planes, teaching flight and working on planes.

"He was very, very careful. If a pilot was concerned about crashing they would never fly," Culpepper said.

Culpepper said Bubel mentioned to him that he was picking up the plane to fix up, and give back to the owner to sell.

Bubel has years of experience in painting planes and owns a dent repair business, according to Culpepper.

"He loved aircraft of all types. Being on here was his heaven before heaven."

The plane crashed in the Ousley Estates neighborhood. Witnesses say Bubel was able to avoid hitting homes and power lines, and likely trying to land in a pond about a hundred feet away from the crash site.

"When we looked up, it was maybe 30-feet off the ground. It the ground and caught on fire," said witness Joellen Rhoden.

Rhoden was among several people who rushed to the crash site and tried to help Bubel. Rhoden says he was several feet away from the plane and his clothing was on fire.

She and another woman tried to save him. "She pulled him across the street while I was hollering for my husband to come own there. She started doing CPR and we switched off doing CPR," Rhoden said.

One of his former students also rushed in to help.  "His clothes were on fire, we got him out of the plane and I gave him CPR," said Dan Boggs.

Boggs says Bubel was a meticulous teacher, an expert in the industry and well respected by many.

He was also a mason and spent many hours giving back and volunteering in the community.

But above all, Culpepper says Bubel was a family man. He leaves behind three children, grandchildren and his wife.

"John has the most incredible family… They're the kind of family that will pull together to get through this," Culpepper said.

Culpepper, also an Okeechobee County Commissioner, says there are plans in the works to create a memorial for Bubel at the county boat ramps.
 

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