Two individuals lost their lives on Friday afternoon when a small plane, having lost both engines, collided with a vehicle on a Florida interstate in an attempt at an emergency landing, as confirmed by authorities.
The private jet, carrying five occupants, crashed near a highway exit in Collier County, causing a fiery wreckage that prompted the closure of Interstate 75, reported the Florida Highway Patrol.
Both the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Collier County Sheriff’s Department verified the fatalities resulting from the collision.
Witness Jinny Johnson, a resident of the Naples area, came across the aftermath moments after the crash while driving north on I-75 around 3:20 p.m. “All of a sudden I saw a lot of black smoke,” described Johnson. “It was pitch black. As I got closer, the smoke got a little lighter. And then I saw flames.”
The plane, en route from Ohio State University to Naples Airport, was scheduled to continue to Fort Lauderdale, according to Robin King, Naples Airport Authority’s communication director. King stated that the airport lost contact with the plane shortly before it went down at approximately 3:10 p.m., departing Ohio at 12:30 p.m.
“It was coming in for a landing,” King explained. “We received word that it had possibly lost an engine, we have not confirmed that. Then we lost contact.”
In the final communication transcript, the pilot informed air traffic control of the engine failure and the inability to reach the runway, moments before the crash.
Federal officials are conducting an investigation into the incident, with the National Transportation Safety Board confirming the plane’s impact at 3:12 p.m.
The crash, involving at least two vehicles, led to closures of north and southbound lanes on I-75. The southbound lanes remained shut as investigations continued into the evening.
The aircraft involved was a private jet, a Bombardier Challenger 600 operated by Hop-a-Jet Worldwide Charter based in Fort Lauderdale, according to FlightAware.
NTSB affirmed that the crash was considered an accident and had initiated a probe, with investigators expected to assess various factors including pilot actions, aircraft conditions, and environmental aspects.
Friday’s collision marks at least the second small plane crash in Florida this month, following a similar incident in Clearwater, Florida, the week prior.