A family, including two children, was killed in a Florida plane crash at the Williston Municipal Airport. Authorities are investigating the accident to determine how the plane could have crashed so near the airport without authorities being alerted until the following day. A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said it could take months to determine what caused the accident, as investigators consider the many factors that may have played a role in the tragic plane crash.
Plane Crashed While Taking Off From Williston Municipal Airport
According to reports, the 1948 Cessna 170 refueled in Georgia at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, and arrived at Williston airport at approximately 2:30 p.m. The pilot attempted to take off from Williston on Sunday, at 3:10 p.m. but crashed beyond the north side of the taxiway.
Despite the plane crashing at the airport, and even though it had an emergency locator transmitter, which should have been picked up by pilots within three miles of the crash, police were not notified of the crash until 1:12 p.m. on Sunday. Up to 20 airplanes flew out of the airport after the crash occurred, leaving authorities wondering why it took so long for them to be alerted to the crash.
“Everything went wrong at once,” said Clay Connolly, Williston’s deputy chief of police. “This is really a huge complacency issue.”
Victims of Cessna Crash Were Family Members
Killed in the crash were four of five members of a family. One son was not on board the plane when it crashed. Nate and Laura Enders and their two young sons, Jadyn and Eli, died in the plane crash. Nate Enders was the registered owner of the plane and was an air traffic controller in Georgia, where he worked at a radar control facility.
The Enders family had reportedly flown into the Williston Airport for a fly-in barbecue event on Saturday.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for funeral expenses and set up a scholarship for the remaining son.
Authorities Investigate Florida Plane Crash
Fire-Rescue and EMS crews responded to the scene of the Enders plane crash. The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating what caused the plane crash.
Plane Crash is the Second in Williston in April
The plane crash involving the Enders family was the second crash in Williston in April. On April 4, 2017, a pilot died when his small plane crashed into a pasture in Williston. Heavy rains that caused downed trees prevented first responders from reaching the scene of the crash for 20 minutes after receiving reports of the accident. Despite the heavy rains, it is not known if the weather was a factor in the crash.
Killed in the crash was the only person on board, 64-year-old Riley Stevens, from Anderson, South Carolina. Stevens was flying from Sebring, Florida, to Clemson, South Carolina, when he crashed.
General Aviation Crashes a Concern for NTSB
General aviation refers to all civilian flights, except those undertaken on passenger airlines. The category of general aviation includes recreational flying, personal travel, and sightseeing flights. According to the NTSB, in 2014 there were 424 fatalities involving general aviation flights. In 2015, there were 376. Despite the high media attention commercial airline crashes get, in both years there were no fatalities in the U.S. on commercial airlines. Meanwhile, the NTSB reported that in 2011, small planes were involved in 94 percent of all fatal plane crashes.
There are many factors that can contribute to a small plane crash. Pilots typically have fewer hours of experience and may not have advanced training and certification such as an “instrument rating,” which can result in crashes caused by pilot error. Smaller planes do not necessarily have the same technology or safety features as larger planes. Small planes may not be maintained as carefully as commercial airliners. Meanwhile, because they often frequent smaller airports, small planes may fly in and out of airports that have no air traffic controllers and without filing formal flight plans.
“While commercial aviation continues to have a strong safety record of 2 years without a fatal accident, the NTSB continues to investigate about 1,500 accidents each year in general aviation,” the NTSB writes. “In many cases, pilots did not have adequate knowledge, skills, or recurrent training to fly safely, particularly in questionable weather conditions…And not only are pilots dying due to human error and inadequate training, but they are frequently transporting their families who suffer the same tragic fate.”
In addition to the plane crashes in Florida, in recent months there have been fatal small plane crashes in California and Oregon. The NTSB is investigating those crashes as well.
Small Plane Crash Attorneys
Though they do not receive as much attention in the news, small plane crashes are usually catastrophic for those onboard, and for the families of those people that are injured or killed. If you or someone you love has been injured in a small plane crash, contact Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman to discuss your case. Our attorneys are available to answer your questions and explain your options.