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Disaster averted; only minor injuries result from plane crash at Hummel

On Saturday, October 7, at about 9 a.m. a small plane crashed into this home on Eubank Landing Road, which was at the end of the runway at Hummel Field in Topping. All three people onboard survived with minor injuries. No one was home at the time of the crash. These photos were taken Sunday as a team was on site to remove the plane from inside the home. The interior view (right) is of the living room in the home. (Photos by Larry Chowning)

by Larry Chowning

So many things went wrong on Saturday, October 7, when a plane crashed into a home near the end of Hummel Airfield runway at Topping that it took at least two “miracles” to fend off a more tragic ending.

One “miracle” was that the three people inside the Mooney M2DC four-seat plane survived the crash, and the other “miracle” was that no one was in the house when the plane hit in the 400 block of Eubank Landing Road.

The Virginia State Police (VSP) were informed at about 9:02 a.m. that the plane had crashed into an unoccupied dwelling in Middlesex. By that time, rescue efforts were already in the works. A neighbor, Greg Rhule, was on the scene 10 minutes after the plane hit the tops of two tall trees, clipping off portions of the wings, and crashed into the house’s sunroom. A piece of wing remained wedged in one of the trees, evidence of how close the plane came to having an even more serious crash.

Rhule said Greg Weik was not the first on the scene but was the first person to enter the house and help. “There was a smell of aviation gasoline and since the plane had just been filled with gas at Hummel Field it had 40 gallons aboard,” said Rhule.

“The plane tore through the wall of the house exposing broken electrical wires,” he said. “The fuel tanks are in the wings and were leaking fuel. There was the possibility of a fire.

“Greg went in, moved debris and removed the couple and their child from the plane,” said Rhule. “I would like to think that is what I would have done but you never know until it happens. Greg acted with bravery any way you look at it.”

The owners of the damaged house were interviewed on Sunday at their summer home and preferred their names not be used. They have owned the house for eight years and are there regularly during warm weather months enjoying it.

The pilot, Keith M. Roxo, his wife and their infant child were taken to Bon Secours Rappahannock General Hospital in Kilmarnock for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Mr. Roxo was treated for lacerations to his face and he and his family were released from the hospital.

Middlesex Sheriff David Bushey said Roxo told him the family was flying from Florida, spent the night at the Pilot House Inn, and they had just fueled up at Hummel to continue on their flight to Connecticut.

According to VSP Trooper J.W. Krom, who investigated the plane crash, a witness reported the pilot did not use the entire runway when attempting to take off. Instead, Roxo came off the taxiway and turned north to begin his takeoff. Trooper Krom said Hummel’s runway is about 2,200 feet long, but the point from which the pilot started his takeoff had only 1,200 feet of runway remaining. He said the plane did not attain enough speed to climb and “stalled,” meaning the plane was not going fast enough to produce lift.

“They were very lucky,” said Trooper Krom.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also investigated the crash.

The Hartfield Volunteer Fire Department, Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad and Virginia Department of Emergency Management officials also responded to the crash.

posted 10.11.2017

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