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Thu, Apr 15, 2004

Plane Down: Concord, CA

One Child Hurt In Apparent Prop Strike

A Piper Arrow crash-landed on a busy California interstate during rush hour Tuesday, coming to rest and burning in the highway median before emergency workers arrived. Although the pilot and his teenaged son walked away from the incident, one girl was in serious condition with severe injuries to her leg.

The girl was riding in a 2005 Dodge Caravan that was struck by the Arrow, reportedly flown by 43-year old Curt Hatch.

"This was the only place I could see, was this damn highway," Hatch told the Contra-Costa times. He was obviously shaken after the crash. "I think my prop hit (the girl in the minivan)."

Hatch said he and his son were returning to their home in Colorado from Buchanan Field when the accident occurred. Hatch told reporters he had partially lost power when trying to return home Monday and a mechanic had been flown in to service the rental aircraft. The pilot said that mechanic replaced a valve in one of the engine's cylinders.

"I can't tell you anything until they investigate it," said Larry Kempton, owner of Kempton Air in Grand Junction (CO), the company that rented the 1979 Arrow to Hatch.

After the mechanic finished working on the aircraft, Hatch said he headed for home around 5:00 pm PDT. Seconds after take-off, just about 200 feet AGL, Hatch said the aircraft completely lost engine power. So he headed for the highway. The emergency landing looked dicey to Hatch.

"I had my son with me, so immediately, my thought was, 'I killed my son,'" he said.

The Arrow set down in the southbound lanes of the crowded highway, collide with the minivan, then bounced into the median. Once it came to rest, it began to burn.

"I was screaming, 'Get the door open and get out,'" Hatch said.

Hatch, a software company owner in Grand Junction, said he apologized to the Wisconsin family in the minivan, but didn't have a chance to talk with the little girl. Eleven-year old Arianna Jimmenez of Danville (CA) was flown by medical helicopter to Children's Hospital in Oakland, where she's now listed in serious condition. [On-site photos provided with the kind permission of David Grube].

FAA Preliminary Accident Report

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 2920C        Make/Model: PA28      Description: PA-28 CHEROKEE, ARROW, WARRIOR, ACHER, D
  Date: 04/13/2004     Time: 2350
  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Serious     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed
LOCATION
  City: CONCORD                     State: CA   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
ACFT ON DEPARTURE FORM RUNWAY 19L,  LOST ENGINE POWER, HIT THE TREES, CRASHED ONTO THE I-680 FREEWAY, AND STRUCK TWO CARS SERIOUSLY INJURYING ONE PERSON IN ONE OF THE CARS, NO INJURIES TO THE TWO PERSONS ON BOARD THE ACFT, POST CRASH FIRE DESTROYED THE ACFT, CONCORD, CA

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Pass:    1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:           Fat:   0     Ser:   1     Min:   0     Unk:   
WEATHER: SP 2353Z 190 11KT 10SM 0368KN 047BKN 17/09 A3010                           
OTHER DATA
  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Take-off      Operation: General Aviation
  Departed: CONCORD, CA                 Dep Date:    Dep. Time:     
  Destination: UNK                      Flt Plan: NONE         Wx Briefing: N
  Last Radio Cont: UNK  Last Clearance: UNK
  FAA FSDO: OAKLAND, CA  (WP27)                   Entry date: 04/14/2004

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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