1 killed when plane crashes into Chico’s building in Fort Myers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -

A plane carrying two people crashed into a building Saturday morning on the Chico’s campus in Fort Myers.

The crash happened shortly before 8 a.m. along Metro Parkway.

The plane was taking off from Page Field when it crashed into Building 9 — the day care center — at Chico’s.

“There was no one inside the daycare center so we are very relieved about that,” said Victoria Moreland, Port Authority spokesperson.

The plane was a single-engine Piper Archer that belonged the Fort Myers Flying Club.

Anthony Greco, president of the Fort Myers Flying Club, was onboard the plane, according to the Mike Jackson, the club’s vice president.

Jackson didn’t yet know the extent of Greco’s injuries.

The other person onboard, who hasn’t been identified, was killed in the crash.

Surveillance video from a nearby business shows the plane flip as it hits the building. It burst into flames upon hitting the ground.

Pilot Ted Ehrlich radioed into air control immediately after the crash.

“I heard the engine failing and watched the takeoff, and it never climbed,” he told them in audio obtained by NBC2 courtesy of Broadcastify.

Witness Richard Waltman works at nearby Sunrise Remodeling.

“As I was leaving, I saw this plane going really low, and when he passed the trees, his wing clipped the trees, flipped over at the side of the building, did a somersault and landed in front and blew up,” Waltman said.

“It was crazy. It was like did anybody survive? They didn’t survive this. They didn’t have no time. Because it was so bad that the plane was shredded when they landed and when I blew up it was like wow.”

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Matt Rutherford described the scene as “chaos.”

“A whole bunch of chaos … Everybody is trying to get to the plane,” he said.

“I’m kind of surprised it doesn’t happen more than that; they are always flying super low right over this anyway. It’s just crazy.”

Statement from Chico’s:

We are still assessing the situation and doing whatever we can to assist the sheriff’s department and other authorities in the investigation.

Statement from FAA:

 “A Piper PA 28 Cherokee Aircraft crashed during takeoff at Page Field today around 8 am. The National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the accident. The FAA will investigate.”

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Southbound Metro Parkway is open, but northbound lanes are blocked between Danley Drive and Metro Plantation.

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WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
– The condition of the second person onboard
– The identities of those onboard
– Why the plane crashed and where it was headed

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