Arlington pilot in crash 'darned lucky' to be alive

ARLINGTON After crashing into a grassy field west of Arlington June 2, the pilot of a single-engine experimental aircraft was described as "darned lucky" by at least one eyewitness.

Mark Walker saw the rear-propelled aircraft go down at approximately 10:50 a.m. and was one of three people who helped turn the craft right-side up and remove the pilot from the craft, after it landed upside down on the south side of Highway 530, near the 4700 block.

"He was lucky to land in a soft spot," Walker said. "You could tell he'd lost power and was aiming for the field. He came in at a steep angle and cartwheeled when he crashed. We found the right wing about 40 feet away from the rest of plane, which landed on its roof."

Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield reported that other eyewitnesses likewise attributed the aircraft's crash landing to engine or mechanical trouble. Snohomish County Sheriff's Lt. Rodney Rochon reported that passersby observed the aircraft turning toward the Arlington Municipal Airport when its engine seemed to lose power.

Walker described the pilot as appearing dazed and grazed, but relatively well under the circumstances.

"He'd cut his head on the plexiglas," Walker said. "It was a difficult landing, but fortunately, he managed to land in grass as tall as me, which helped cushion his fall."

The 67-year-old pilot was the aircraft's lone occupant, and was transported via helicopter by Airlift Northwest to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, for precautionary treatment and possible head injuries, according to Rochon. Snohomish County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Rebecca Hover said it appeared that the injuries the pilot suffered were not life-threatening, but Banfield noted that the pilot's current condition was unknown as of press time.

Members of the Arlington Fire Department and Snohomish County Sheriff's Office arrived after Walker and his fellow onlookers had retrieved the pilot, and emergency workers from Snohomish County Fire Protection District 19, Marysville Fire District, and the Washington State Patrol also assisted in the event.

Highway 530 was closed for approximately 45 minutes while emergency crews responded, and allowed Airlift Northwest to land on the highway to transport the pilot.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the crash.

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