Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Red Flare, Parachute and Feared Plane Crash Keep Police Busy Overnight in Mondex, But Nothing is Found

Some time after 10 p.m. Tuesday evening, a resident at 4760 Walnut Avenue in Daytona North, also known as the Mondex, reported seeing a red flare in the sky when she was outside her house. Authorities immediately considered it an “aircraft emergency”—that a plane may have been in trouble. There’s been a few in Flagler County in the last couple of years, the last one in January, when a plane carrying three people crashed into a house on Utica Plath in Palm Coast. Authorities don’t take such reports lightly.

Not long afterward the call from Walnut Avenue, dispatchers got a call from a resident on Honeytree Street, some eight blocks to the east, reporting a parachutist. The caller was certain of what he saw, and even reported that the parachutist was flying so rapidly that he thought he’d end up in the area of Walnut and Mahogany Boulevard (Walnut and Mahogany run parallel to each other).

The Walnut Avenue caller then produced the picture of what appeared to be a distress flare.  Volusia County’s Air One emergency helicopter, which is equipped with infrared optics that can see people or other creatures in the dark, launched at 10:37 p.m. (Flagler County’s emergency helicopter goes out of service at 8 p.m.)

A check with traffic control towers in Daytona Beach and Flagler County before Air One launched had concluded that all planes were accounted for as of 10:30 p.m.

Authorities kept searching on the ground, but locating nothing. Around 11 p.m., Air One was over the Mondex. “I see the units on the ground,” the pilot reported. “Has anything been found yet?” Nothing had.

Nothing would be found the rest of the night. Contact was also made with authorities in Putnam County.

“There was no evidence of an aircraft emergency nor did they observe any evidence of a parachute,” Bob Weber, the sheriff’s office’s spokesman, confirmed early this morning. “At this time we were not able to locate the origin of the red flare but it is believed to have been an illumination flare which has a parachute attached to it.”

On occasion residents in Flagler Beach, or drinkers in Flagler Beach bars, have reported seeing what they thought to be planes in flames, falling into the ocean. Search parties would be scrambled, at times involving the Coast Guard, only for authorities to conclude that the lights or flames were Chinese lanterns people light up and let loose, to be taken up by the wind until the lanterns burn up.

Parachute flares, are sometimes sold by ammunition shops on the internet or on the black market, but are not legal to fire by civilians in non-distress situations.