The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 14, 2013

Officials: UPS cargo jet crashes in Tarrant.; 2 killed

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A UPS cargo plane crashed Wednesday morning as it approached an Alabama airport, killing two crew members on board and scattering boxes and charred debris across the grassy field where it made impact, officials said.

The pilot and co-pilot of the jet were pronounced dead at the scene, said Birmingham Fire Chief Ivor Brooks. The crash site had been burning, but the blaze was extinguished by late morning, Brooks said.

The plane crashed in an open field on the outskirts of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, said Toni Herrera-Bast, a spokeswoman for the city's airport authority. The crash had not affected airport operations, though it did appear to topple a tree and a utility pole.

The top was broken out of the tree and there are pieces of a utility pole and limbs in the road. Nearby, grass was blackened near the bottom of a hill. A piece of the fuselage and an engine are visible on the crest of the hill. White smoke was pouring from the other side of the hill.

It was not immediately known what the plane was carrying; UPS spokesman Jeff Wafford said only that the plane was carrying a variety of cargo.

Sharon Wilson, who lives near the airport, said she was in bed before dawn when she heard what sounded like engines sputtering as the plane went over her house.

"It sounded like an airplane had given out of fuel. We thought it was trying to make it to the airport. But a few minutes later we heard a loud 'boom,'" she said.

Another resident, Jerome Sanders, lives directly across from the runway. He said he heard a plane just before dawn and could see flames seconds before it crashed.

"It was on fire before it hit," Sanders said.

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