Thursday, December 18, 2014

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N5897P: Accident occurred November 28, 2014 near Andrews University Airpark (C20), Berrien Springs, Michigan

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA064
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 28, 2014 in Berrien Springs, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/19/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA 24-250, registration: N5897P
Injuries: 4 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that he calculated that the airplane had sufficient fuel on board for about 90 minutes of flight; he estimated that the flight to his intended destination would take about 70 minutes. The flight encountered weather as it approached its destination, so the pilot decided to circle the area until the weather cleared. Once the weather cleared, he lined up the airplane on final approach for the runway. The pilot stated that, about 4 miles from the runway, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power because the airplane ran out of fuel. During the subsequent forced landing, the airplane impacted trees and terrain.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s inadequate fuel planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

On November 28, 2014, about 1110 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24 airplane, N5897P, sustained substantial damage following a total loss of engine power enroute to Andrews University Airpark (C20), Berrien Springs, MI. The pilot, who was the registered owner, co-pilot, and 2 passengers were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of departure from Richmond Municipal Airport, Richmond, Indiana. The flight was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight and an instrument flight plan had been filed.

The pilot stated he was planning a 70 minute flight enroute to his destination. The fixed based operator at his departure airport was closed and fuel was not available. He had calculated there was 90 minutes of fuel onboard the airplane based on a previous flight 2 days prior. The pilot reported he encountered weather as he approached his intended destination and decided to circle until the weather cleared. When the weather cleared he lined up on final approach for the runway. The pilot stated that approximately 4 miles from the runway he encountered a total loss of engine power when the airplane ran out of fuel. During the subsequent forced landing, the airplane impacted trees and terrain causing substantial damage to airplane's fuselage and wings.

RICHMOND, Ind. - Four people survived a plane crash in Berrien Springs on the day after Thanksgiving. ABC57 went to Richmond, Indiana to check in with the pilot and his mother, who is in rehabilitation.

“Every time I close my eyes, it's like those images just keep coming back,” said pilot Bryce Fisher.

For Fisher, a trip on Black Friday to visit his grandmother in Berrien Springs quickly turned into a nightmare that keeps replaying in his head.  

“I don't remember panicking. I don't remember thinking this is it. It was just complete tunnel vision in a situation like that. Between the engine dying and actually hitting the trees, we probably had 25 to 30 seconds,” said Fisher.

He had seconds to make a miraculous landing. He landed 2 feet from a home, 2 feet from a ravine and in between trees.

“If we had gone into the St. Joseph River, we would have drowned. I was trapped. She was trapped. So it was by the hand of God that we're alive today,” said Fisher.

Fisher obtained his pilots and mechanics license at Andrews University. He is thankful for the training he received.

And he believes the power cable between trees helped stop the Piper Comanche just in time.

“After the dust settled I just remember trying to listen is anybody else okay? And for the first minute I didn't hear anybody so it was really terrifying,” said Fisher.

Fisher's father Dr. William Fisher is 72 years old and even though he had several broken bones, he was up and walking around at the scene.

Dr. Fisher has been flying for 45 years.

“He with a broken back, pulls out my mom. And pulls out Miritha. When it came to me I was kind of trapped. And he was like, ‘Son, I can't do it,'” said Fisher.

Fisher says the plane landed upside down and his head was in the snow, but somehow, he didn't lose consciousness. 

“I must have hit something on the instrument panel that was really strong and narrow because it impacted my tooth and broke my maxilla bone, my palate. They were like, ‘Do you remember swallowing your tooth?' And I was like, ‘No!' they didn't know until they took a CT scan that the tooth was in my nasal cavity,” said Fisher.

Fisher's girlfriend Miritha Morales suffered a broken leg. His mom had a broken hip and arm. 

Fisher's mom, Barbara, is at the Acute Rehabilitation Center in Richmond, Indiana.

It was emotional for their family as they held hands. 

Barbara said through the tears that she believes she's alive because she was praying when they crashed.

“Miritha, Bryce, Bill, and I, our hands are securely in the Lord. Can't be any other way,” said Barbara.

The Fishers are hoping for a Christmas miracle. 

They are hoping to bring Barbara home on Christmas day.

Doctors said she should make a full recovery. 

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  1. They say flying isn't "inherently dangerous".
    Guess what? It is.

  2. Everybody takes risks every single day. We can't completely shield ourselves from the unthinkable happening.