Pilot critically injured in Whitpain Twp. plane crash identified

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Monday, September 25, 2017
Pilot critically injured in Whitpain Twp. plane crash ID'd
Pilot critically injured in Whitpain Twp. plane crash ID'd. Jim Gardner reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on September 25, 2017.

WHITPAIN TWP., Pa. (WPVI) -- A pilot was seriously injured after his plane crashed near a house in Whitpain Township, Montgomery County over the weekend.

Phillip Beckner, 29, of Crofton, Maryland, remained hospitalized in critical condition at Penn-Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia as of Monday evening.

The crash happened on Meade Road just after 5 p.m. Sunday. Authorities say the pilot had just taken off from nearby Wings Field Airport.

After the crash, Beckner got some help from quick-thinking neighbors who rushed to cut him from the plane.

"I open up the door, I see people running down the street and someone said, 'Oh my God there's a plane crash!'" said David Buck of Whitpain Township.

Douglas DiSandro, who lives across the street, was in his backyard when he said he heard the small plane overhead, sputtering, and flying low.

"Too close to the house," said DiSandro. "I knew the trees in the front and I said there's no way he's clearing those. And then I heard the crash and I ran out front."

DiSandro said he and another neighbor frantically searched for the pilot, and found him when they heard a gurgling sound coming from the bushes.

"Brian noticed there was a strap around his neck. One of his straps holding him into the seat, and so Brian called for scissors," said DiSandro. "We elevated him to get the pressure off his neck because he clearly wasn't breathing, until we could get the strap cut off."

DiSandro said then the pilot started gasping.

Neighbors said having planes in the area is not unusual, but the crash is alarming.

"We see planes - 4, 5, 6 a day -- and it's a nice view to watch the planes go across the field right there but this is like a reality, wake-up check," said Buck. "It's kind of scary."

Police were at the scene overnight to make sure nothing was disturbed.


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