Pilot survives plane crash in Ocean Ridge

Courtesy: Boynton Beach Police Department
Courtesy: Boynton Beach Police Department

By Lindsay Cohen - email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

OCEAN RIDGE, FL (WFLX) - Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, a small plane crashed on A1A in Ocean Ridge just north of Boynton Beach Boulevard.

Update, TUE 10 pm: The sheer sight left some in disbelief: A small, twin-engine Cessna wrapped around a utility pole, broken apart into pieces, and flipped upside-down along A1A in the tiny beach side town of Ocean Ridge.

"We saw it hit into the building, and, all of a sudden, there was a big puff of smoke," said witness Sherri Minervino. "We all came running up off the beach, and when we came up this is what we saw: The plane flipped over and the cockpit all around the pole. And, it's like, we thought the guy was dead."

The crash happened just before 1 p.m. Tuesday. Dozens on the beach watched as the plane, flying low to the ground, apparently lost power. The aircraft hit the ground about 150 feet away from the beach.

"We heard a loud crash and looked around," said witness Liz McNair, "and I see a plane sliding down that pole. I screamed, and I couldn't believe it."

Authorities say the pilot, Laurent Gillot of Boca Raton, was conscious when he was pulled out of the wreckage about 20 minutes after the crash. Gillot, 51, was the only person on board. He was taken to Delray Medical Center with injuries to his face.

The plane clipped the roof of the new Ocean Ridge Town Hall and police department. The building is still under construction and was slated for an August 15 opening.

The opening may be delayed because the front facade will now have to be replaced said police investigator Chris Yannuzzi.

Nearly 1,300 people lost power after the crash. All but 39 had their power restored by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Update, TUE 5:30 pm: It's an incredible sight: A plane flipped over and wrapped around a pole in front of the new Ocean Ridge Town Hall which is still under construction.

Boynton Beach Fire Rescue says the small, twin-engine Cessna went down just before 1 p.m. Tuesday - right off A1A, about 150 feet from the beach - in Ocean Ridge.

Authorities are investigating whether the pilot may have had engine trouble.

But from speaking to eyewitnesses, police say, the plane clipped the building, hit a pole, flipped over, and landed on the ground.

Witnesses tell us the plane was flying low and appeared to be having some problems right before it hit the pavement.

Liz McNair, witness, said, "I mean, it was just a huge explosion."

Only the pilot was onboard. Authorities say he was conscious when he was pulled out of the wreckage.

FPL crews are working desperately to restore power to the area.

There were also investigators from the FAA and NTSB on the scene.

The pilot was taken to Delray Medical Center. His name and condition have not yet been released.

Ocean Avenue and A1A North is expected to remain closed to traffic for several more hours.

Previously: Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, a small plane crashed on A1A in Ocean Ridge just north of Boynton Beach Boulevard.

Boynton Beach Police say one male, approximately 60 years old, was aboard the CESSNA when it crashed across the street from the Ocean Ridge Municipal Complex. He was conscious and rushed to Bethesda Memorial Hospital. He was later airlifted to Delray Medical Center.

A1A is closed off in the area.

We have a crew on the scene and will keep you updated as we learn more.