One killed in Calera plane crash near county airport

Emergency responders work the scene of a plane crash in a field slightly south of the Shelby County Airport on Aug. 27. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Emergency responders work the scene of a plane crash in a field slightly south of the Shelby County Airport on Aug. 27. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

CALERA— The Calera Police Department has confirmed one fatality in a plane crash near the Shelby County Airport behind Central State Bank on Shelby County 87.

“It’s pretty bad. It’s a bad crash,” said Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley. “It is our understanding at this point that the plane was attempting to land.”

The crash happened shortly after 7 p.m. when the single-engine plane crashed in a field slightly south of the airport’s runway, and burst into flames after contacting the ground.

Police have not yet released the victim’s name, and have not yet determined if the pilot was the sole occupant in the aircraft.

About an hour after the crash, smoke filled the air near the crash site while paramedics and crews from the Calera Fire and Police Departments, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabaster Police Department worked at the site. Responders had the perimeter roped off, and the FAA was en route to investigate the crash site.

“At this time, we are securing the scene and holding it for the FAA,” Lemley said.

Lemley said several people in the area witnessed the crash, and many stopped and rushed to the crash scene in an attempt to rescue the pilot.

“We did have several (good) Samaritans that rushed in just to check and see if there was anything that they could do. It is appreciated that people did stop to try to help,” Lemley said.

One of witnesses who rushed to the scene was Alabaster resident Max Brown, who was driving on Shelby County 87 minutes after the plane burst into flames.

Brown said he called 911, and dispatchers informed him rescue crews had already been dispatched to the scene. He said one of the plane’s wheels had rolled north of the crash site toward the airport runway, leading him to believe the plane was attempting to approach the runway from the south.

“I saw a big plume of smoke, and I originally thought the (Central State) Bank was on fire,” Brown said. “When I realized it was a plane crash, I pulled over hoping we could help someone. But there was nothing we could do.”