The people who witnessed the malfunctioning Drug Enforcement Administration plane that plummeted into Houston-area traffic are lucky the crash-landing only ruined their afternoon.
The single-engine Cessna was conducting a training exercise in the area Wednesday afternoon, a DEA spokesman told KHOU, when the plane started to malfunction on its way back to Sugar Land Regional Airport.
The plane began to spew smoke, teetered in the sky, then suddenly dipped to about 40 feet above traffic, witnesses told KTRK, before smashing into two cars just after 3 p.m.
“I just kind of looked up, and I wasn’t even really thinking of even much, but I knew we’re going to get hit, and either we’re here or we’re gone,” Jay Camp, who was in the passenger seat of his mother’s car when the wing of the DEA plane crashed against their Toyota, told the station. “It slammed us and next thing I know, I’m looking up and I’m like, ‘I’m alive.’”
His mom, Terri Scheel, told KPRC she jumped a curb along Voss Road near Texas 6 to try to avoid the plane, but their car was the first the plane contacted on its way down.
“We’re always thinking to look out for the cars in the road, but not a plane from the sky,” O’Neil Kurup, who was driving the other car that got hit, told the station. “It was just swaying back and forth, and within a matter of seconds it hit us. I was just thinking about my family, of course, and I didn’t think we would come out of it.”
Video from the scene showed Kurup carrying a toddler-sized car seat from the wreckage of his vehicle.
The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that the plane was leaking fuel after it crashed, but the wreckage never caught fire. The plane also took down some power lines, leaving some in the area without power to their homes nearby for hours.
But no one was killed or even seriously injured in the crash. In fact, the DEA spokesman said that the DEA plane’s pilot tried to put the plane down on Voss Road on purpose, to minimize the harm caused by the crash-landing.
“It was the safest place I could find to land,” the pilot said, according to KHOU.
Homes and businesses line both sides of the street, not 50 feet away from where the plane went down.
“You look at the aircraft right now and say to yourself, ‘God, this could have been horrible,’” Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls told KRIV. “To be able to set it down where he did, and to be able to walk out of that aircraft with minor injuries, and such, is quite an accomplishment.”
One of three people inside the plane was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Houston Chronicle, and the other two were able to walk away from the crash. None of those DEA agents has been identified by authorities.
Camp, Scheel and Kurup were also reportedly treated at the scene.
‘Imagine you’re just driving down Voss Road in Fort Bend County and all the sudden an aircraft strikes your vehicle,” Nehls told the Chronicle. “That would be enough to put me in cardiac arrest. We are very fortunate that this was not much more catastrophic than what it was.”