As two little girls sat in their playhouse on a sunny afternoon, a plane that had lost power and was falling from the sky was headed straight for the house next door.
The girls’ mother, Amanda Siefert, was in the family’s garage at 21 Patterson St. when she heard the plane overhead, followed by a crash. She ran from the garage to grab her kids, 8-year-old Allison Siefert and 3-year-old Brooke Siefert.
The girls’ playhouse and the tall trees above it were untouched. But the plane slammed into a rear corner of the house next door, knocked down two electrical wires, and went through a fence, stopping in another backyard, about 70 yards from where the girls were playing.
“It was too close to the tree house,” Amanda Siefert said.
Residents who live along Patterson Street in the Lakeview neighborhood are used to seeing and hearing planes land and take off from the Greenwood Municipal Airport, which is about a quarter-mile away. Some, including Frances Grider, are close enough they can see pilots’ faces as they approach the airport.
On Friday, Patterson Street residents stood along their block watching after a plane crashed into their neighbors’ homes.
Even though they are used to seeing aircraft fly overhead, many never thought about a crash happening.
“I’ve never worried about it before,” Danielle Connor said.
Connor was inside a home baby-sitting when the plane went down. The voices of the kids she was watching were loud enough to drown out the sound of the crash. She didn’t realize a plane had gone down until she heard police cars and fire trucks pulling into the neighborhood.
At the Oaken Barrel Brewing Co. on Airport Parkway, diners on the patio heard the plane sputter and rumble as it passed about 300 feet over their heads before crashing on Patterson Street, just west of the shopping center.
The crowd saw flames as soon as the plane was down, and one woman ran inside the restaurant to call 911, manager Mike Budak said.
A nurse and EMT who were in the restaurant rushed out the door to help, he said.
Jeremy Gibbs, who lives on Patterson Street, was pulling into the neighborhood after the crash, as three people were trying to pull the pilot and co-pilot from the plane. Three people, including a Greenwood police officer, ran to the plane after it was down. The three got the co-pilot out of the plane, but the flames from the aircraft were too intense and stopped them from getting to the pilot.
The three tried to use a nearby garden hose to fight the flames and rescue the pilot, but the blaze was too much, Gibbs said.