Plane crashes in yard; pilot dies

OKEECHOBEE – An Okeechobee man died Friday after the single-engine airplane he was piloting crashed in the back yard of a home at 1343 S.W. 19th Lane in Ousley Estates.

The pilot was identified as John Bubel, 62, but he was not the registered owner of the Zenith Light Sport aircraft.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Michele Bell said Mr. Bubel had flown the single-engine plane from Homestead to Okeechobee. She went on to say Mr. Bubel and the registered owner of the aircraft were friends.Okeechobee plane crash, Nov. 6, 2015.

According to OCSO Detective Marty D. Faulkner the Nov. 6 accident occurred at 11:37 a.m.

He said the small plane had space for two occupants but was apparently only occupied by Mr. Bubel.

Mrs. Bell said witnesses at the crash site immediately went to Mr. Bubel’s aid and began performing cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until emergency medical personnel from Okeechobee County Fire/Rescue arrived on scene. At that point he was taken to Raulerson Hospital.

“The plane appeared to be coming from the southeast in an embankment position,” said Detective Faulkner.Okeechobee plane crash, Nov. 6, 2015.

He went on to say it’s not yet clear if the accident was due to a mechanical problem or pilot error. The plane was equipped with both fixed wheels and pontoons.

Because his investigation was still in its infancy, the veteran investigator said it appeared as though Mr. Bubel was going to land the sea plane in a small lake across the street from the crash site.

Detective Faulkner is the lead investigator on the case.

Mrs. Bell said both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been contacted and will be taking part in the investigation.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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