Updated: Dec 29, 2022
By Joe Johnson
An airplane reportedly crashed Thursday afternoon, soon after taking off from Athens-Ben Epps Airport and the pilot and a passenger suffered only minor injuries.
According to an Athens-Clarke County government news release, just after 1:30 p.m., county 911 dispatchers received reports of an aircraft that crashed in the area of Shoal Creek Drive, near the airport.
As crews were en route to the scene, the pilot made contact with officials by phone to confirm that the plane had crashed, that he and a passenger were slightly injured, and provided responders with a better location of the crash site.
The plane, a Piper PA-24-260 Comanche, had just taken off from the airport and the pilot reported being in distress after losing power.
The pilot attempted to return to the airport but was unable. The plane went down behind a home in a wooded area, and its two occupants were able to crawl out and make contact with first responders. They were taken to the hospital by ambulance to be treated for minor injuries.
Firefighters at the scene assisted in disconnecting power to the plane and used foam to mitigate vapors from fuel that had leaked from a ruptured fuel tank.
The scene is being secured by police and firefighters until representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board arrive to investigate the incident.