Small plane from Columbus crashes into vehicle on I-75 in Florida

Florida Highway Patrol says a small airplane with five people from The Ohio State University's airport collided with a vehicle in Collier County on Friday afternoon creating a fiery debris field and closing Interstate 75.

Collier County Sheriff's Office confirmed at least two people are dead.

Witness sees plumes of black smoke minutes after crash

Naples-area resident Jinny Johnson happened upon the crash just minutes after it took place, heading north on I-75 around 3:20 p.m.

"All of a sudden I saw a lot of black smoke," Johnson said. "It was pitch black. As I got closer, the smoke got a little lighter. And then I saw flames."

A plane crashed on Interstate 75 in Naples on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.
A plane crashed on Interstate 75 in Naples on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.

Flames shot into the air, eating into the plane, and there was a damaged car sitting on the median, Johnson said. As she crept north, sticking to the curb lane on the far side of the road to give herself as much space from the plane as possible, she watched everything unfold.

Emergency vehicles had not yet arrived, and as traffic crept along, she watched a helicopter land near the wreckage. Ambulance, fire and police vehicles sped north up the sides of the interstate on the southbound side, she said. She thought it had hit a side wall along the highway, but couldn't be sure. Johnson added that she saw a first responder was sitting next to a person on the median, who appeared to have been in the car.

Naples Airport dispatched firetrucks with a special foam-type substance that can help control jet fuel fires.

As firefighters hosed down the plane, the smoke changed from black to gray to white.

FAA confirms crash of plane from Columbus, Ohio

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Bombardier Challenger 600 jet crashed on southbound Interstate 75, near mile marker 107, Pine Ridge Road, at about 3:10 p.m. At least one vehicle was destroyed.

The plane was coming from Columbus, Ohio, to the Naples Airport and scheduled for departure to Fort Lauderdale, said Robin King, the director of communication with The Naples Airport Authority.

FHP Troopers on the scene of a small airplane landing on southbound Interstate 75, near mile marker 107 (Pine Ridge Road), Collier County.
FHP Troopers on the scene of a small airplane landing on southbound Interstate 75, near mile marker 107 (Pine Ridge Road), Collier County.

It left Ohio at 12:30 p.m.

King said the airport lost communication with the plane just before the crash.

"It was coming in for a landing," she said. "We received word that it had possibly lost an engine, we have not confirmed that, then we lost contact."

Cars drive past a plane crash in Interstate 75 in Naples on Friday afternoon, Feb. 9, 2024.
Cars drive past a plane crash in Interstate 75 in Naples on Friday afternoon, Feb. 9, 2024.

In a tape released of the final call from the pilot, the pilot tells an airport controller they won't make the runway.

Pilot: "Okay, Challenger, Hop-A-Jet 823, lost both engines, emergency. I'm making an emergency landing." Controller: "I've got an emergency. Clear to land Runway 23.:  Pilot: "We're clear to land but we're not gonna make the runway. We've lost both engines."  

Naples airport had no information on who was on plane

King did not have a time for departure to Fort Lauderdale.

"We don't have anybody here at the general aviation terminal waiting for them," she said. "We don't know who they are, the nature of the business. We don't know why they are coming here"

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident.

Firefighters hose down the jet that crashed Friday afternoon on I-75 outside Naples. At least two are confirmed dead in the crash.
Firefighters hose down the jet that crashed Friday afternoon on I-75 outside Naples. At least two are confirmed dead in the crash.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers remained on the scene about 6:30 p.m., and respective lanes going south and north of the crash had reopened.

Troopers advises drivers to avoid the area and seek a alternate routes. The FAA also restricted airspace in the area around the crash.

Officials at OSU said the Columbus, Ohio airport is fully commercial, and the plane is not affiliated with the university.

Naples Daily News and Fort Myers News-Press journalists Kate Cimini, Liz Freeman, Kendall Little, Bill Smith and Alex Martin contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Small plane from Ohio crashes into vehicle on Interstate 75 in Florida