JACKSON, Miss.--A private plane slammed into a house in the Capital City Tuesday evening, killing the three on board and seriously injuring at least one person on the ground. The crashed happened shortly after 5 p.m. Those on board were headed to an FAA safety meeting in Raymond, in western Hinds County.
The pilot and two others who were on board the aircraft were burned beyond recognition, according to authorities, who were still working to find out exactly what brought the aircraft down.
The pilot was ID'd as John Tilton of Ridgeland. W.C. Young was a passenger. The third person on board was not immediately identified.
When it hit, the plane likely had a full load of fuel, having taken off just minutes earlier from Hawkins Field, a samll airport that accomodates smaller craft like the Piper 32 Cherokee 6 that crashed. It took firefighters at least one hour to contain the blaze that completely destroyed the home, which was located near the Jackson Zoo, just off Capitol St.
News Mississippi's crew was on the scene just minutes after the crash and spoke with the neice of the woman who was in the house when the plane hit. She escaped with her life, but won't be without scars.
"Loretta Jamison's house got hit by an airplane and it blew up," she said. "The plane crashed and she was able to jump out the window to safety." We are told by other relatives that her clothes were already on fire when she made that leap. Her husband took her to UMC, where family members said she was in serious condition. It was unclear if there was anyone else in the house.
Reporters Iris Barnes and Camie Crowe also spoke with the plane's owners, Roger and Michele Latham.
"My husband was supposed to be on the plane," said a tearful Michele. "We're real good friends with the pilot." At that point it was obvious no one had survived.
"We lost three great men as the result of an aircraft going down," said Roger. "It was in mint condition, it flew back and forth to our place in Orange Beach, Alabama. It never spit, never sputtered."
Latham couldn't speculate on why the craft may have gone down, but told us a Jackson police officer was a block away and noticed the plane turn from its course and try to return to Hawkins Field. That was confirmed by an official news release from the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. That release also said the investigation is now in the hands of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
As for the pilot, Latham described him as a friend.
"He was one of the finest Christian men that I knew. John was actually teaching me to be a pilot. I lacked about 15 hours."