A single-engine plane crash near Kilgore Airport July 20 left a pilot with injuries and the plane severely damaged.
A July 20 Facebook post from Kilgore Police Department stated KPD and Kilgore Fire Department units responded to the scene of the crash Saturday evening. Minor injuries were reported.
KPD Asst. Chief Roman Roberson said the Department of Public Safety took over the initial investigation.
“(The) plane had a single occupant and crashed on take-off. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will be looking into the cause,” Roberson wrote in an email.
Sgt. Jean Dark of the Tyler DPS office said DPS held the scene until FAA investigators arrived, at which point DPS handed the investigation over to the feds.
Kilgore Airport owner and manager Dana Sneed was at the facility when the crash occurred and rushed to assist the pilot.
“He was a pilot that has got his plane based out here at the airfield,” Sneed said, identifying the pilot as Miguel Salazar and the plane as a Cessna 175.
“Apparently he taxied down the runway and did the normal approach you’d do for takeoff. He attempted to take off towards the south.”
Sneed said he was in the airport’s shop at the time of the crash and did not see the incident take place. However, the sound of the crash clued him in that something was wrong.
“I heard a loud crash and I knew exactly what it was. I took a look and sure enough he’d hit the field just to the east of us.”
Assessing the situation, Sneed was able to determine Salazar had been able to get the plane off the runway and attain flight status but was “unsure what happened at that point.”
“He did strike the ground by that field. It pretty well tore the plane up. He did sustain some injuries. The 911 medics came out and took him to the hospital," Sneed said, adding Salazar may have sustained broken ribs. Sneed noticed significant injuries to Salazar’s face as he helped extricate him from the wreckage.
“He was bleeding really bad in the face when I arrived there. I had to pull him out of the plane. It was leaking fuel really bad. There was fuel in the cockpit.”
Sneed said Salazar was wedged into the cockpit due to the damage to the Cessna. Though Salazar was injured, he was able to use his feet to push himself out of the cockpit as Sneed helped pull him to safety.
They moved a safe distance away from the crash site due to the hazard presented by the fuel leak.
Sneed said he waited with Salazar until emergency responders arrived to transport Salazar to the hospital and has not spoken with him since, despite attempts to call him.
Salazar was taken to Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview for treatment of his injuries.
A call to Salazar’s cell phone was answered by a man who identified himself as Salazar’s son. The man said Salazar would be hospitalized for 10 days and was unable to answer questions at this time.
Sneed said Salazar had the Cessna at the Kilgore Airport “for a long time” and “it was based here at this airfield” but he did not know how often Salazar had flown that particular aircraft.