Investigation into plane crash near Boone County Regional Airport underway

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 4:35 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Travel Safety Board (NTSB) traveled to Harrison Tuesday to begin working the scene of a plane crash near the Boone County Regional Airport (HRO).

Harrison Fire Department confirmed the pilot was Jay Cutler, an orthopedic surgeon in Harrison. They say he is a frequent flyer with an aircraft based out of the HRO private plane hangar.

According to initial information from an airport spokesperson, he and a passenger was flying from Kansas City to Harrison when the engine of their Beechcraft Bonanza failed. Initial calls of the crash came shortly after 3 p.m., to which crews responded to a field near U.S. 65 and Antique Court, an estimated 500 feet from the airport runway.

“My first thought was, thank goodness it wasn’t on the airport field and then just trying to get to the scene,” said Judy McCutcheon, airport manager at HRO. “They did walk away from the scene, thankful. The aircraft is based here in Harrison, and is a local pilot. It always hits home really hard when it is someone that you know. So it couldn’t have turned out better.

According to the Harrison Fire Department, crews responded within two-to-three minutes of the initial call from Harrison Fire Station No. 3, located at the airport.

“We found nobody. We were expecting the worst,” said Harrison Fire Chief Marc Lowery. “We had gotten word that down out of the field in a yard, the occupants had escaped and went down there.”

A specialized truck on the scene aided firefighters to quickly put out the flames before spreading from the plane.

“Surviving an impact like that in and of itself is something amazing,” said Lowery. “The timeline of the fire started, we’re unsure. I felt like the fire started slowly, and they were able to get out before it took off and got as bad as it did.”

Lowery says the nature of the flames leads him to initially believe the plane still had a large amount of fuel at the time of the crash.

“We’re just fortunate that everything turned out the way it did. As far as how it happened, why it happened, we don’t know,” said McCutcheon.

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