Passenger jet crashes at Troy Airport

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 14, 2001

Managing Editor

January 14, 2001 10:15 PM

TROY, Sunday, Jan. 14 – A small passenger jet unofficial sources say is owned by the Dallas Cowboys organization crashed Sunday at the Troy airport around 11 a.m. leaving two men injured.

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According to the Troy Police Department, those injured were the pilot and co-pilot of the aircraft.

Both Eddie Collins, 50, of Jacksonville, Ark., and Max McVickers, 31, of Irving, Texas were transported to the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital Sunday afternoon after they were stabilized at Troy’s Edge Regional Medical Center. They were reported to be in "serious" condition.

Troy Police Department public information officer Benny Scarbrough reported that Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage was at the site working with emergency crews to get the situation stablized.

Scarbrough would not elaborate on the cause of the accident, but he reported that two deer were killed on the runway at the time of the accident and there is a possibility that the deer could have been a contributing factor in the crash.

The aircraft reportedly involved in the crash is a Lear jet Model 60 (click here for a description of the aircraft).

"We have contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board and we aren’t able to reveal any sort of official cause until they conduct their investigations," Scarbrough said. "What we do know is that two deer were killed in the crash and that suggests that there’s a chance they could have been a factor that contributed to the crash. But we don’t, with absolute certainty, know that to be the case."

Unofficial sources reported that the aircraft was landing in Troy to pick up people affiliated with the Dallas Cowboys football organization, including Stephen Jones, son of Dallas Cowboys football organization owner Jerry Jones. Stephen Jones and two companions whose names have not been released were reportedly in Pike County for a hunt that was to benefit Pike Liberal Arts School.

According to Scarbrough, information released by the Dallas Cowboys footbal organization was that the aircraft was landing in Troy "on business."

Country music artist Hank Williams Jr., who owns land and a cabin in the area, was, the source said, one of the organizers of the hunt. Jones and other members of the Dallas Cowboys organization were in a Troy restaurant Saturday night for dinner with Williams, sources reported.

The jet was on approach to the main runway when the accident occurred.

"The crash occurred on the main runway," Scarbrough said.

Fire department units from throughout Pike County responded to the situation.

According to Matt and Eric Chance, two brothers who were working in the area with Atwell Cable Construction Company, the accident was a close call for the two men who were in the aircraft.

"We were working on the Conecuh River about a mile away when we saw black smoke boiling into the air," Matt said. "We hopped in the truck and drove over there to see what was happening."

The two beat most emergency personnel to the accident.

"We were just about the first ones there besides the people already at the airport," Eric said. "When we got there, a jet was on fire off the runway and the back end was in flames.

"The people at the scene were trying to get two men out of the front of the plane before the fire got there," he said. "They were spraying the fire with water and fire extinguishers and people were running everywhere."

According to a release issued by the Dallas Cowboys football organization, people at the scene, particularly two pilots who were at the airport when the accident occurred, saved the pilot and co-pilot thanks to a "heroic effort."

After workers pulled one man out of the front, Matt said, crews hooked a Chevrolet Tahoe up to chains and started tearing the cabin apart.

"Rescuers were in a hurry," he said. "They weren’t waiting for the jaws of life to arrive."

The jaws of life did, however, arrive and crew members with the Troy Fire Department arrived to assist in cutting the two men out of the cockpit.

Troy Police Department officials closed off the entrance to the airport to the public and said that further investigation will be conducted by the FAA and NTSB Monday and Tuesday.

Keep checking for updates Monday. See the full story in Tuesday’s Messenger.