BRAITHWAITE, La. -- Four people are lucky to be alive after the small sea plane they were flying in suddenly went down in a neighborhood on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish.
The plane ended up in the front yard of a home in Braithwaite, not far from the Scarsdale Ferry landing.
Ronald Becnel looked in the sky above his homestead in Braithwaite shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday and saw a frightening sight.
'We noticed that the plane lost power. My step-son said probably the plane is going to crash and seconds later it did,' said Becnel.
Becnel said the pilot tried to put the small Cessna 206 single-engine plane down on his property, but struck a utility line.
'When we first noticed it, the engine wasn't running,' he said. 'We just noticed that it was gliding, going down. It just past about 200 feet above my house and then landed in my next door neighbors yard. It barely missed the power lines, but it hit phone lines and broke those.'
The plane skidded across Hwy. 39 and came to rest in Mitchell Meyers' front yard. Meyers was on duty as a Plaquemines Parish firefighter. He was among the first responders to reach the plane.
'When I made the turn here, that's when I noticed these cars are out in front of my house,' said Meyers. ''What is that?''
A large crape myrtle bush kept the plane from crashing into Mitchell's home.
The aircraft belongs to Southern Seaplane of Belle Chasse. The pilot and three female passengers walked away from the accident.
'The pilot was a little shaken up and the three girls were standing on the other side of the highway from my house, and I saw them over there and I didn't realize they were in the plane,' said Mitchell. 'I went up to them and said can I help you all? What are you all doing? They go we were in the plane. I started looking at them, you all were in the plane. I said you all are lucky sons of a gun.'
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation safety Board will now investigate the cause of the accident. Sources tell Eyewitness News that the pilot went to switch from one fuel tank to the other and the engine stopped.
Authorities did not release the name of the pilot. We are told he has 27 years flying experience.
'I guess he can be considered a hero in this incident because the plane, as far as I understand, the plane lost power during the flight. He saw a place where he could land the plane which was an open field,' said Plaquemine Parish Sheriff Office spokesman Commander Eric Becnel. 'There was only one minor injury to a knee to one of the passengers. They refused emergency medical services. They are all fine.'
The three passengers were observing and photographing the Louisiana coastline for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.