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Pilot and passenger survive plane crash on I-26, investigation ongoing

By Marc Liverman

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Miraculously, the pilot and passenger of a plane that crashed on Interstate 26 on Thursday escaped the wreckage before the plane was fully engulfed in flames.

Pilot and passenger survive plane crash on I-26, investigation ongoing

When reached by phone late Friday afternoon, the pilot, 25-year-old Parker Klehr, said he was recovering.

It’s not clear if he was released from the hospital.

‘Can we kill it now:’ New charges filed against Pennsylvania man accused of killing girlfriend, unborn child | WLOS News 13 also spoke with the father of the only passenger onboard, 23-year-old Eduardo Vargas. He said his son was going into surgery late Friday afternoon. It wasn’t clear what condition he was in.

The plane crash happened just after 8 p.m. Thursday. When firefighters got to the scene, they saw bright orange flames covering the roadway.

“The two people in the plane self-extricated, were treated and transported to the hospital,” Skyland Fire Chief Trevor Lance said.

The pilot and passenger suffered non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said Thursday night.

The plane clipped power lines on its way down, taking out electricity in some nearby areas. The debris field was contained mostly to one side of the interstate. “One hundred feet by 50 feet. I think it was contained to the westbound lanes,” Lance said.

Once the fire was out, crews focused in on getting power back up and running.

“The closure was absolutely necessary for the safety of the workers pulling three power lines across all four lanes of I-26,” NCDOT spokesman David Uchiyama said.

Some vehicles were stuck for hours along I-26 as crews worked to get drivers turned around and away from the crash.

“There are instances where the queue just backs up, and there’s nowhere to go,” Uchiyama said.

Finally, roughly three hours after the initial crash, crews were able to start turning those vehicles around.

“The folks that we have were able to slowly but safely get drivers where they need to get going,” Uchiyama said.

The FAA and NTSB are now working to figure out why the crash happened.

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