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story.lead_photo.caption Members of the Lonoke County sheriff’s office and the Federal Aviation Administration investigate Wednesday’s fatal plane crash in Austin. - Photo by Thomas Metthe

A small plane crashed in the backyard of an Austin residence, killing its pilot, authorities said Wednesday.

Reagan Whitlow, 45, was the single-engine plane's sole occupant. Lonoke County sheriff's office Capt. David Bufford said Whitlow lived in the neighborhood where the crash took place, though it was unclear if he was the plane's owner.

Bufford said authorities began receiving 911 calls about 2:40 p.m. Wednesday about a small plane that had crashed. Upon arriving at the crash site, he could see where the plane had skidded after landing, ending up near the shore of Rick Lake behind the home.

"You could see it hit, boom, and it went probably about 100 feet," Bufford said.

The plane, which he said had apparently caught fire in the crash, had sustained such damage that Bufford was not sure what kind of aircraft it was.

"I can't even tell you. ... It's burned up," he said.

Officers from Bufford's department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Magness township constable's office and the Ward Fire Department all responded to the scene. Three firetrucks were still at the site roughly two hours after the first reports of the crash.

Little information was available about the cause of the crash at the scene. Authorities said that the National Transportation Safety Board typically investigates these types of events and would likely arrive today to assess the site.

The Lonoke County sheriff's office responds to one or two plane crashes each year, but typically the planes are crop-dusters, Bufford said.

The greenhouse where the crash took place is at the end of a winding, semirural road, where homes with coiling driveways sit in thick stands of trees.

Authorities had closed the property and the scene of the crash to reporters, though about a dozen people -- some of whom were said to be family members of the pilot -- were crowded onto the residence's porch overlooking the backyard. No debris was visible from the street.

Through an employee of the Magness township constable's office, an FAA officer at the scene declined to comment.

A map showing the location of a small plane crash near Ward.

Metro on 09/27/2018

Print Headline: Small plane falls in backyard near central Arkansas lake, killing pilot

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