SARASOTA, Florida - A plane crash has killed a pilot and left his passenger in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital. The plane went down in an empty field on the campus of New College of Florida, along Bay Shore Road in North Sarasota.
According to officials with the Sarasota County Fire Department, the plane took off from the Sarasota Bradenton Airport about a half mile away and started having problems gaining altitude. Authorities said it clipped two trees before crashing down. The plane is described as a Seawind.
"It was very, very low and there was a loud pop. Like a shotgun blast sound. Like backfire," said Rich Parker, who lives nearby.
"As soon as I heard the bang, I saw the smoke. It was like a firework going off, how quick there was smoke," said neighbor Bill Summers.
A number of people rushed to try to help the pilot and passenger. Parker said he saw the pilot, but couldn't get to him before the plane became fully engulfed.
"[I'm] just a little shook up. It's tough to see somebody reaching out for you and you can't do much about it," said Parker.
Rescue crews were able to pull the passenger out, who reportedly suffered third degree burns. Both he and the pilot have not been identified. Authorities do say, however, that the two are from out of town.
The NTSB will be on the scene to investigate Sunday.