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Plane crashes south of Oak Harbor

A fiery plane crash in North Whidbey killed a female passenger and severely burned the pilot late Friday afternoon.

Detective Ed Wallace with the Island County Sheriff’s Office said the small airplane, a fabric-covered 1942 Stinson, clipped trees and crashed in a wooded area on Quiet Lane, a private dirt road behind North Whidbey’s Bible Baptist Church.

Cmdr. Mike Beech, also with the Sheriff’s Office, said the pilot was able to crawl from the plane while he was on fire. Beech said a neighbor woman saw the plane crash and rolled the pilot, a 48-year-old Oak Harbor man, to put out the flames.

The plane wreckage was burning so fiercely that the neighbor was unable to rescue the passenger. She ran home and called 911. The crash was reported at about 4 p.m.

Firefighters were able to quickly put out the flames — and prevent the fire from spreading — but the passenger, a 42-year-old woman, was already dead.

Investigators haven’t released the names of the victim yet, but witnesses believed they were husband and wife.

Beech said the pilot was badly burned and may have sustained other injuries. He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment.

The small plane was flying eastbound when it crashed. Witnesses heard it sputtering. Beech said the pilot may own a small, private airfield west of the crash site.

Roberta Maris, a woman who lives near the crash site, said she heard the plane crash, but thought it was a mower hitting something.

She said she saw the plane earlier in the day “fooling around,” flying low over the property. She said it’s common to see small planes practicing in the area, but nothing like this has even happened before.

“I saw him coming across our field,” she said, “and I thought he would have to gain altitude before coming over those trees.”

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