Florida man hospitalized after plane crash in Greenwood; pilot killed

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By Eric Levy

GREENWOOD, Ind. (July 11, 2014) — A pilot is dead, and his co-pilot is hospitalized after their plane crashed in Greenwood Friday.

Investigators are still trying to determine what happened, but FOX59 has learned the crash happened just moments after taking off from the Greenwood Airport. The pilot, 46-year-old William Michael Gilliland of Greenwood, died in the crash. Gilliland is survived his wife, Angela, and their two daughters, ages 12 and 14. He’s worked as vice president of business transformation at Simon Property Group since 2008.

The passenger has been identified as Michael J. Elliott of Tarpon Springs, Fla. Police say he was born in 1951. The moment of impact was terrifying for the man, who lives in the home where the plane came to rest.

“Scary. I was watching TV and heard a big crash and lights went out,” said Rick Smith. “Went out and saw the planes and flames.”

It happened with such force.

“Lot of noise, that’s all I can say, a lot of noise,” he said.

The plane, with two men in the cockpit, fell from the sky just after taking off from the airport in Greenwood. It took out power lines, hit the attached garage of one home and caught fire after hitting the ground. A nurse was having lunch at a nearby restaurant, heard the impact and ran over just as another man was trying to help the Elliott.

“I just helped him pull him away from the fire. There were quite a few power lines down and the fire was still going pretty strong,” she said.

Police credit those who got to crash site quickly.

“They put themselves in some significant and danger. They were at least able to save one person from that plane. If they had not been there, there would be two fatalities in that plane right now,” said Michael Fillenwarth, Assistant Chief for the Greenwood Police Department.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been called, and is investigating the cause of the crash.

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