Jennifer Roscher, for all intents and purposes, was in chill mode April 6 as she watched her nephew participate in a touch football game at Legacy Park.
Roscher, a former emergency room nurse at Saint Luke’s Hospital East in Lee’s Summit, was with her family when she and other visitors at the park noticed a small-engine airplane in distress.
“We were watching the game and then all of a sudden you heard kind of like a sputtering sound,’” Roscher said April 7 as she relayed her account of the Cessna 210’s troubles. “All of a sudden the engine went completely dead and you could kind of see him losing a little bit. You knew he wasn’t going to make it to the airport.”
The plane crashed around 5:45 that evening in the 1500 block of N.E. Blackwell Road, in a remote field on the eastern edge of Legacy Park near where Lee’s Summit and the Jackson County line border.
Roscher said she immediately started running, but realized she didn’t know exactly where the plane had crashed. She eventually got a ride to the site in her brother-in-law’s vehicle and was met at the scene by two other nurses and a doctor who were all at Legacy Park as youth sports spectators.
“My brother-in-law was right next to me and I just took off running,” Roscher said. “He was like, ‘let me drive you over there’ because he had a four-wheel drive car. There was already a couple of people there helping, so I just ran over there and starting helping as well. I used to be an ER nurse so my instincts just kicked in. Time just kind of stops and you get in that mode.”
Two men in the plane were later taken to a local hospital. The pilot suffered minor injuries, according to authorities, and the passenger was seriously injured.
Lee’s Summit Police Department Public Information Officer Chris Depue confirmed both the pilot and a passenger were in their 20s or 30s.
“We checked him over and over,” Roscher said of the passenger. “The pilot had very minor injuries it seemed like, but you could tell the passenger had some serious facial injuries. At one point they were going to Life Flight him. He never lost consciousness and he was talking as much as he could but I think he broke his jaw.”
Federal Aviation Administration investigators arrived in Lee’s Summit early April 7 to begin its inquiry into the cause of the crash. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said it will take months for the FAA to complete the investigation.
She added the plane’s flight originated at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport in Jacksonville, Fla. headed to Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport. According to the FAA’s aircraft registry the plane is registered to Mar-Tech Engineering, a division of ControlCam, which is headquartered in Jacksonville.
Other witnesses at Legacy Park reported a low-flying airplane that appeared to be in trouble. Minutes later emergency personnel were called out to a field off Colbern Road and Windsor Road, just east of the park, on a downed aircraft.
John Gibson, Lee’s Summit, was at home at the time and spotted the troubled plane.
“I live here on Prairie Lee Lake, and we could tell he had engine problems. After he fired it up again, I said ‘get your phones out because he is going down,’” Gibson said. “The plane started going down near Woodland Shores. He was coming toward the airport, then he took a hard 90 to go toward Legacy Park. He went over Legacy Park. He did a darn good job of putting it down in a place where he wasn’t going to hurt anybody.”
Ryan Weaver, Lee’s Summit, was playing soccer at Legacy Park when the plane came overhead.
“We were playing the game and the plane flew over the field pretty low,” Weaver said. “It just kept getting lower and lower and immediately took a right turn and hit the ground. It was pretty obvious he was in trouble. We were worried it was going to hit the house.”
The plane crashed facing southwest, with the nose nearly broken off and one wing into the ground. The aircraft was 100 yards from a home off Windsor.
A day or so after the incident, Roscher said she is relieved that she and others were able to help stabilize the crash victims.
“Everyone worked really well together and we kept them calm and got the information we needed so when the fire department got there we could let them know,” she said. “I’m grateful that I went to the game. I almost didn’t go. Now I’m really glad I did because there were people there who needed help.”