herald

Monday 21 January 2019

Dublin hotel boss left badly injured as plane crashes in Florida park

Al Ryan plane crash
Al Ryan plane crash

A LEADING Dublin hotelier was left in a critical condition after a horror plane crash in the US.

Aloysius Ryan (52) was one of four injured when the single engine plane narrowly missed an apartment building and crashed into a public park in Florida.

Mr Ryan, who lives in Howth, is a co-director of the Grand Hotel, Malahide and the Marine Hotel in Sutton.

The pilot of the plane, named as Grant Jordon (57) was also badly injured in the crash at St Petersberg, but two other passengers - both described as Irish - managed to scramble from the wreckage of the Piper Cherokee plane.

People enjoying the quiet of a waterside park scattered and ran as they realised the plane was heading straight for them.

MISSED

It narrowly missed hitting the apartment building, before descending rapidly, one of the wings ripping off as it hit a tree.

Still in the air, it spun, sending debris across a wide area before crashing to the grass, bouncing and stopping near the water. No one on the ground was hurt.

St Petersburg police said all four, including a 17-year-old girl who was not named but escaped with minor injuries, are all Irish citizens.

Eamonn Harnell (48) was also not seriously injured.

Mr Ryan's condition was last night described as critical but stable.

He and Mr Jordon remain in the Baymont Health hospital in St Petersburg.

Mike Puetz, of the St Petersburg police, said the injuries suffered by the two men are not life-threatening.

He said the investigation into what happened is in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration. Locals who witnessed the mid-morning crash described to various news outlets the aftermath.

When it finally came to land in the water, one of the plane's doors swung open and two people, Harnell and the girl stepped out.

But witness Justin De Stoppelaire told local reporters he saw the pilot limp with his head back. He was unconscious when paramedics arrived on the scene.

When he regained consciousness he could not tell the paramedics his name, where he had come from or why he had been flying to St Petersburg.

Mr Jordon later told police the engine failed on the more than 40-year-old aircraft as he began his approach to the airport and he was forced to make the emergency landing.

The plane had left Tallahassee Regional Airport at 8.14am yesterday and was scheduled to land at another Florida airport.

There was no smell of fuel after the plane crash and investigators are looking into whether there was enough on board for what was a relatively short trip between Tallahassee and Tampa Bay.

Veteran crash investigator, Captain John Cox, in an interview with local news station, WFLA, praised the pilot for finding a spot to bring the plane down.

"He made some good choices that he was able to find an opening and get the airplane in there," said Captain Cox.

The aircraft was more than four decades old, built in 1972, according to FAA documents.

A spokesperson for the Grand Hotel in Malahide today declined to comment to the Herald on the crash or Mr Ryan's condition in hospital.

cfeehan@herald.ie

Promoted articles

Entertainment News