A small plane holding two passengers crashed Saturday near the University of Florida's Flavet Field, a recreational facility that serves as a hub for tailgaters prior to football games.
The Florida Gators' official Twitter feed first reported the accident, in which the pilots unsuccessfully tried making an emergency landing:
UPDATE - a small plane attempted an emergency landing at an open area of Flavet Field and has crashed (1/3)— Florida Gators (@GatorZoneNews) October 5, 2013
The plane landed upside down on a vacant pick up truck. Both pilots were ejected and transported to a local hospital. (2/3)— Florida Gators (@GatorZoneNews) October 5, 2013
Both pilots were injured and taken for immediate medical care following the crash. The identities of the two people involved have not been revealed, nor has the reason for the crash. There are currently no other known injuries, according to the school:
No additional injuries to report at this time. Will release any further info as it becomes available (3/3).— Florida Gators (@GatorZoneNews) October 5, 2013
The extent of the damage in the surrounding areas is also unknown at this time.
Prior to the crash, the plane was seen carrying an advertising banner near the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and surrounding areas. Central Florida's WUFT News has confirmed that the plane was registered to Beach Banners, Inc., a Jacksonville-based advertising company:
WUFT News has just confirmed the plane is registered to Beach Banners, Inc. in Jacksonville.— WUFT News (@WUFTNews) October 5, 2013
According to the company's official website, Beach Banners specializes in aerial photography and advertisements. It is owned by Joel Weaner. Vic Micolucci of WJXT reported that the company just two years ago had a pilot killed in a crash at a Jacksonville airport.
The crash came just hours before the Gators' 7 p.m. ET kickoff for their game against Arkansas. There is currently no word on whether it will have any affect on the game. Tailgaters who were near the site said the impact was quiet and began returning to normal activities not long after police officials and others began cleaning up the area.
“All we heard was the crash. We didn’t even hear the plane come in,” witness Katy Crannell told the Gainesville Sun.
Assuming the game goes off without incident, Florida will be taking on a reeling Razorbacks squad. Arkansas lost to Rutgers and Texas A&M the past two weeks after beginning the season 3-0. The Gators, led by one of the nation's stingiest defenses, are 3-1 and are ranked No. 18 in the country by the Associated Press. They have won each of their two SEC contests, including a 24-7 win last week at Kentucky.
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