3 people taken to hospital after plane crash in Okeechobee County

3 people taken to hospital after plane crash in Okeechobee County
Plane crash near the Okeechobee County Airport (Source: Bradley G. Goodbread)

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY -- A single-engine Beechcraft plane crashed near the Okeechobee Airport on Saturday afternoon, injuring the pilot and two passengers.

The Okeechobee Sheriff's Office said a call was received at approximately 12:45 p.m. about the crash of a plane, originally identified as a Piper. Deputy Richard Varnadore, who was first on the scene, found the plane in flames. Two occupants escaped and the deputy was able to rescue the pilot from the burning plane, the sheriff's office said.

All three occupants were transported to Raulerson Hospital and subsequently airlifted to an area hospital with unknown injuries.

The plane apparently lost power and crashed at the south side of the airport in the industrial park, according to the sheriff's office.

This case will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The airport has two active asphalt runways but no tower.

It opened in April 1940 as Conners Field, and was leased by the U.S. Army in 1941 as an auxiliary training field. The site was returned for civil use after the war ended in 1945.