SEBRING (FOX 13) - Two men were killed Tuesday afternoon when a gyrocopter went down in a Highlands County neighborhood.
Pilot Christopher Lord, 45, and his passenger Christopher Brugger, 52, died when the gyrocopter crashed into mobile homes on Caribbean Road in Sebring, bursting into flames.
“The whole house shook. It was just a massive explosion,” said Diane Clark who lives across the street from the crash site.
Neighbors said they called 911 after hearing the crash and seeing the fire around 2:50 p.m.
“I ran to the back of the house, and I looked down there and it was an inferno. It was so hot, so fast. I knew no body survived,” said neighbor Randy Myers.
Firefighters worked fast to put out the flames.
“This gyrocopter appeared to either clip the lines or the pole that was behind that mobile home, snap that pole in half and pulled all the lines with it, and crashed right into the one trailer that’s completely demolished,” said Marc Bashoor, the Highlands County Public Safety Director.
Highlands County officials said the gyrocopter took down power lines on its way down, some of the wires landing on Clark’s house.
“The whole house shook, and all of a sudden we went running out. (The electrician) told me there’s a live wire across your porch, watch it,” said Clark, who had an electrician working inside her home at the time of the crash.
Investigators say two homes were damaged, one destroyed and the other significantly damaged.
“Luckily, there was no body in those homes. There was one man who was working on a home next door. He was taken to the hospital with burns on his arm and leg, minor injuries,” said Scott Dressel, the spokesperson for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.
Firefighters say it could have been a lot worse.
“There’s a pool supply store right in front and had it hit the pool supply store where chlorine and salts and all the other things are stored, we could have had an even more significant issue,” said Bashoor.
Now, neighbors just feel for the families of those killed
“I feel so sorry,” said Clark.
Officials said the gyrocopter was leaving Sebring Regional Airport where the pilot owned a company called Gyroplane Guy. His passenger was from Manatee County, and that’s where they were headed. NTSB investigators will go to the crash scene Wednesday to find out the cause of the crash.