Authorities investigating plane crash that narrowly missed Bartow church

Pilot survived but suffered serious injuries

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — Three hundred members of the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church were singing their Sunday praises when they heard a loud boom.

“We actually thought it was thunder, pretty common here in Florida,” said Associate Pastor Dr. Kevin Stephens. “So one of our deacons got up to check it out and he came back in and said a plane crashed.”

Members of the church rushed outside and found the pilot trapped in the wreckage.  Fortunately, the church has a nurse corps, and one of the nurses, Queen Morris, came to the pilot’s aid.

“Ran up to the scene and got over there and they helped us get on top of the plane and we began to apply pressure,” said Morris. “He had a gash on top of his forehead. He was bleeding everywhere and we were asking him all kinds of questions.”

Morris says the pilot was able to communicate.  He told her he had been flying planes for 40 years, but didn’t know what caused the crash.

Six cars were damaged in the incident, including Sierra Carter’s 2016 Jeep Patriot.  Carter only had the SUV for about six months.

“I looked at my boyfriend and said, Red, my car. And he said, what do you mean?” said Carter. “And he finally goes out and looks, comes back and says, it’s your car.”

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash, and it’s still unclear whether the pilot had just taken off or was trying to land.

Good Hope Missionary lies in the flight path of the Bartow Municipal Airport.

The FAA issued a statement saying, “A Cirrus SR22 crashed approximately one half mile west of Bartow Municipal Airport in Bartow, FL at about 12:20 p.m. today. Check with local authorities on the condition of the people on board. The FAA will investigate.”

Dr. Stephens tells us he is counting his blessings.  Had the plane veered a few feet over, the outcome could have been much different.

“Oh my goodness,” said Dr. Stephens. “We were just talking to some of the officers there because we had about 300 people. It would’ve been catastrophic for us. ”

The pilot has not been identified. Authorities say he was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.

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