Single-engine plane crashes on I-85

May 30, 2008 9:14:56 PM PDT
A single-engine plane crashed on Interstate 85 north of Durham, bringing traffic to a crawl in both directions.

On Friday, an airplane went down short of an airfield just north of Redwood near Falls Lake around 7 p.m.. Witnesses say the plane clipped a pine tree on approach.

The plane, a Piper model J3C-65, was manufactured in 1947 and is registered to Richard Fuller of Durham. He was the pilot of the plane when it crashed. He was also the only one on board.

Eyewitness News has been told Fuller is an experienced pilot, once flew for an airline, and is one of the managers of the airfield.

According to a witness, the plane crashed on approach to Lake Ridge Aero Park on west side of Falls Lake, 15 miles west of Durham. They say rescuers used the "jaws of life" to pull Fuller from the wreckage. Rescue personnel air lifted him to UNC Hospital, where he is in critical condition.

No other injuries were reported. No cars were hit during the accident; drivers at the time were able to evade the crash.

"The fact he was still alive is amazing, because the front end of the plane just splattered on the highway. I could see a bit ofa bloody arm on the highway. My heart goes out to him and his family," Driver, Kyna Lewis said.

Durham County Sheriff's Capt. Ricky Buchanan says Fuller lives in a subdivision near the airport, which is located near the airfield.

Buchanan said the cause of the crash is known at this time. The FAA is investigating.

Southbound traffic used the inside shoulder to get past the crash, while motorists were slowed down in the northbound lanes.

The accident was cleared a few hours after the crash. The plane's wreckage was taken to a hanger at Lake Ridge.

The crash occurred close to an unrelated tractor-trailer wreck earlier Friday that spilled diesel fuel on the southbound lanes and shut down the interstate for nearly eight hours.


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