4 passengers survive small plane crash in Helena - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

4 passengers survive small plane crash in Helena

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(L-R) Andy Smith, Katey Hargrove, Dan Smith and Sharon Smith. (L-R) Andy Smith, Katey Hargrove, Dan Smith and Sharon Smith.
The plane went down behind the Dancing Daylily Gardens in the 4300 block of Shades Crest Road. (Source: Ralph Watkins) The plane went down behind the Dancing Daylily Gardens in the 4300 block of Shades Crest Road. (Source: Ralph Watkins)
An image of the crash scene. (Source: Ralph Watkins) An image of the crash scene. (Source: Ralph Watkins)
Wreckage from the crash. (Source: Ralph Watkins) Wreckage from the crash. (Source: Ralph Watkins)
People on the ground pulled the four people on board the plane before the plane exploded. (Source: Ralph Watkins) People on the ground pulled the four people on board the plane before the plane exploded. (Source: Ralph Watkins)
HELENA, AL (WBRC) -

Sharon Smith remains in 'fair' condition at UAB Hospital as of Friday evening, while her husband Dan, son Andy and Andy's girlfriend, Katey Hargrove, are all in 'good' condition.

All four were on board the small airplane when it crashed near South Shades Crest Road in Helena on Thursday.

They were traveling home to Dickson, Tennessee after vacationing in Panama City, Florida.

The NTSB says the plane experienced a partial loss of engine power when the pilot tried to land at a nearby airport. The Bessemer airport is about a mile from the crash site.

The plane hit trees about one mile north of the airport and went down behind the Dancing Daylily Gardens in the 4300 block of Shades Crest Road.

Authorities say no one would have survived the crash had it not been for two people who heard the crash then helped pull the passengers from the plane before it exploded.

Duane Lovelady and Ralph Watkins were working on a lawn mower when they heard the plane crash. The two men went to the crash site and pulled out all four victims seconds before the rest of the plane exploded.

"I heard it, by the time I looked up it was going yonder way and flames was up and I said, 'What the heck is that?' I was sitting right there by the lawn mower and saw it go across the field," Lovelady said.

The witnesses said Dan Smith made sure his wife, his son and his son's girlfriend got out of the plane first before he was rescued.

Katie's aunt Ginger Mattingly said she's excited and relieved to hear her niece will be fine. Katie is supposed to start her senior year at Dickson High School on Friday.

"It is just an absolute miracle that they survived that. I am just so thankful that those men were there to be able to pull them out to get them out of the plane before it exploded. It's just a miracle," Mattingly said.

"Thank you so much for going over and helping and saving their lives," she added.

People who know the Smiths say Dan is an excellent pilot. The Smiths are well-known in Dickson and own Dickson Athletic Club.

Two FAA investigators are on the ground but the NTSB is leading the investigation.

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