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Wichita Falls plane crash kills pilot

Witnesses say the pilot, Jeffrey Harrington, was killed on impact Witnesses say the pilot, Jeffrey Harrington, was killed on impact
The FAA and NTSB are investigating Sunday's crash The FAA and NTSB are investigating Sunday's crash

WICHITA FALLS_ A plane crash claimed a pilot's life and came just yards away from hitting a Wichita Falls church. It happened around 9 a.m. Sunday morning on the front lawn of the Woodhaven Baptist Church in the south part of town. The Kickapoo Downtown Airport is less than a mile from the crash site, and investigators believe the pilot was trying to land there when something went wrong. The pilot has been identified as Jeffrey Harrington, a prominent eye doctor in the Wichita Falls area.

The investigation is still ongoing, but witnesses saw the plane make a low descent, with the wings tilting back and forth, and that's when they saw that the propeller wasn't rotating.

"Two women came early to get in before the crowd got here," said Woodhaven pastor Lenard Brothers. "And I heard them scream, and I heard a thud, and I looked, and the plane had nose dived into the ground."

Pastor Brothers sees planes fly overhead every day, but it turned tragic when Jeffrey Harrington's plane crashed on their front lawn, killing him instantly. "I went immediately over to him, and there was no moaning, no smell of gas, no smoke, nothing," Brothers said. "I just leaned down and his right hand was hanging out the edge of the plane, and I check his pulse and there was nothing."

Harrington's family told Texas Highway Patrol Troopers that he had only owned this plane for a couple of months. Even though it was fairly new to him, family and friends say he was a very skilled pilot and could handle it like an expert. "People have been stopping by, that's what they've told us," said Sgt. Corey Lain with THP. "He was a very experienced pilot, especially with emergency landings."

So while the preliminary investigation points to possible equipment malfunction, along with the factor of a very strong head wind, family and friends say he must have done everything he could to try and land safely. Brothers says it may have been something else. "I think he saw the church and he just didn't want to hit it, maybe," he said. "Those two older ladies of our church that wer out there, I think he just didn't want to hit them."

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration were at the crash site Sunday afternoon, and the National Transportation Safety Board investigators were expected to arrive later in the evening. The exact cause of the crash will be released after they have completed their investigations.

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