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Neighbors didn’t hear plane crash in field

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County Line Road traffic passes as investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration look over a small plane that crashed on Tuesday. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
County Line Road traffic passes as investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration look over a small plane that crashed on Tuesday. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

The phone call unnerved him: a friend said an airplane had just crashed into his home.

James Simon was in the middle of a typical workday at his landscaping business and rushed to his home 15 minutes away. He tried calling his neighbors but could not reach any of them. His friends had heard on TV and social media that a Cessna fixed-wing single engine plane had crashed, and one thought it hit Simon’s home.

He saw numerous police cars when he got close to home and saw an ambulance leaving. Once he saw a mangled plane in the field — and not in his home — Simon said he breathed a sigh of relief.

Neighbors of a Greenwood field where the plane crashed didn’t see plumes of smoke and balls of fire. The only sound they heard were sirens.

The two-seat plane, carrying an instructor and student pilot from the nearby Greenwood Municipal Airport, crashed into a farm field east of Interstate 65 near Combs and County Line roads. About 10 homes are located nearby in a mostly rural area, except for an apartment complex on the Indianapolis side of County Line Road. Less than a mile north or south of the site, the landscape is dotted with subdivisions and businesses.

Residents in the nearby homes and apartments didn’t hear or see the plane crash, but they saw the wreckage after and worried that the men inside were seriously hurt.

Angelina Schmoll could see two men lying on the ground near a smashed aircraft, and other men running toward them across the field.

“They weren’t moving at all, so I kind of thought they were really hurt,” she said.

Before Schmoll could dial 911, about a dozen police cars, several fire trucks and two ambulances began pulling up to the field near her house. One of the injured men stood and walked into an ambulance, with his arm in a sling. The other man had to be carried, she said.

Michelle Smith’s property is north of the cornfield, and the plane crashed about 500 feet from her house, but she didn’t hear a sound, she said. She heard sirens about 11 a.m., but she thought they were headed toward a car accident on County Line Road.

“(There was) no fire. No smoke,” she said. “I’ve always been concerned, since the airport is so close.”

Kathy Clem, who lives next to the field on County Line Road was at home, but she didn’t hear the crash. She happened to glimpse the plane through a window looking out onto the field. Her property is adjacent to the field, which her sister owns.

The crash was the second on property belonging to Clem’s family along County Line Road. Clem grew up at the intersection of County Line and Combs roads, and has lived in the area all her life, she said. The first crash happened in 1959 or so, when she was about 8 years old. A plane crashed into her parents’ backyard while the family was away, she said.

This time, she was home and surprised she didn’t see or hear it. Her son called because he’d heard about the crash, and asked if she knew where it was.

For the second time in her life, she knew precisely where it was.

“Yes. It’s at your home,” she said.

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