WORTHINGTON, Ky. (AP) - An 80-year-old man died Saturday when
the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed into the Ohio River
in eastern Kentucky.
William G. Stevens of Grayson was pronounced dead at the scene
on the banks of the river near Worthington, Kentucky State Police
The plane crashed at about 3 p.m. while trying to land at the
Ashland Regional Airport in Worthington, troopers said.
Rick Lawson was fishing for bass in the Ohio River with his two
sons and a friend when he heard the plane's engine sputter, then
watched it crash about 100 yards from his boat. Lawson's wife,
Diane, said her husband tried to rescue the pilot, but couldn't.
"He tried and tried again. He just couldn't do it. He hurt his
hand trying to get the door open because he knew someone was in
there," Diane Lawson told The Daily Independent in Ashland.
Stevens radioed back to the Worthington airport shortly after
takeoff to report he was having engine problems and was planning to
return, said Jack Metz, a member of the airport's board of
Within minutes airport officials heard him say, "he was putting
it in the water," Metz said.
David Prichard, who often watches the aircraft passing overhead
in Worthington, said he "heard a loud crunch and no motor sound,"
when he realized the plane had crashed.
"I got down here and it was upside down, half submerged and
sinking slowly," he said.
Metz told the paper that engine failure is almost certain to be
found at fault.
"The engine wasn't running when he hit. He was flying it dead
stick," Metz said, meaning the pilot had only basic flight
controls to guide the airplane to the ground.
Metz and Robert Martin, who has worked on many similar aircraft,
said Stevens "loved to fly" and was qualified to pilot single-
and multiengine planes and had attained his instrument rating.
Stevens also built an estimated dozen experimental aircraft with
another under construction.
Stevens had a small airstrip at his home, roughly two miles from
downtown Grayson, Metz and Martin said.
"It is hard to say how many hours of flight time he had," Metz
Greenup County Coroner Neil Wright ordered an autopsy to be
conducted in Frankfort.
The airplane was a low-wing Grumman Cheetah AA-5B with seating
for the pilot and three passengers.
The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified of the
incident and is investigating the crash.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)