By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
When McArthur Reid went outside to check his mailbox last Sunday evening, he never imagined a small plane would crash just feet away from his home. A Cessna 152 crashed around 8 p.m. in the middle of a residential neighborhood of Madison at the intersection of East Washington and Vine streets, badly injuring two men, the aircraft’s pilot and passenger—who are expected to survive. Fortunately, the plane crashed without hitting any homes or catching fire. Reid, 64, didn’t hesitate to help, immediately rushing over to the wreckage and pulling the two men inside out of the aircraft to a patch of nearby grass. “I was afraid there could have been a gas leak and the whole thing would blow,” said Reid. “I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.” As Reid approached the plane, the passenger side door was already open and the male passenger was hanging by his seatbelt partially outside of the aircraft. “He was out of it, but awake,” said Reid. After Reid removed the passenger from the plane, he and a friend moved the pilot. “Oh, the pilot was unconscious and hurt bad, he was bleeding all over me and everywhere,” said Reid. David and Jill Cooper, nearby neighbors, heard the crash from inside their home. “We heard such a big boom, I thought it was car bomb,” said Jill Cooper. Jill, a nurse at MCES, assisted the passenger of the plane before medical help arrived. The man, who Jill estimated to be in his mid-twenties, was disoriented, but talking. “He kept saying, ‘is this a dream? Tell me this is a dream,’” said Jill Cooper. “I tried to keep them talking until help got there.” The man then gave Jill his cell phone and asked her to call his girlfriend to tell her what happened. He also told her he was a helicopter pilot logging hours with a flight instructor in order to get his pilot’s license.
“The most important thing was to find family for him and let him know that family was on the way. That’s what I would want most, if I was on the side of the road someplace and injured.” Cooper was hopeful on account of how lucid the man was while waiting for medical attention. “It was amazing that he was talking,” said Jill, who noted the man was bleeding and believed his nose was broken. Jill thought the pilot has incurred more extensive injuries. “His head was hurting and he was in and out of consciousness,” said Jill Cooper. “I did what I could, but the real heroes were the Morgan County Fire and EMS and the Madison City Police,” said Jill Cooper.
Officials believe the plane’s pilot skillfully navigated the aircraft using streetlights as markers to put the plane on the ground in the safest manner possible. “I think they lined it with that street. It was very windy and they had no power, but he was able to line it up with that street with the streetlight and will live to tell about it,” said Madison City Manager David Nunn. According to Nunn, when the plane was crashing, only a wheel clipped a support power line wire, which broke off the top section of a pole. “It didn’t even knock out any power,” said Nunn. “The most amazing thing was how intact the plane was after the crash, with only the impact damaging the front end of the plane.” Both men were rushed to Athens Regional Medical Center for treatment. Local authorities believe the men were headed to the Gwinnet County Airport, originally departing from St. Augustine, Florida. Tim Carter, fire chief of Madison, spoke with the pilot and reported that he has been treated and released from the hospital. “For a crash like that, they were in pretty good shape,” said Carter. No news at this time about the passenger of the plane, but the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) reported that both the pilot and passenger are expected to live.