Pilot, passenger injured in Citrus County crash
By JORGE SANCHEZ
© St. Petersburg Times,
INVERNESS -- Two men were badly burned after the experimental airplane they were in crashed nose-first into a vacant field in a Citrus County subdivision.
James E. Guldi, 56, the pilot of the aircraft, and his passenger, William E. Wynne, 38, were airlifted to Tampa General Hospital after the crash, which occurred a few minutes after noon Saturday. Both men are from Daytona Beach, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office said.
Guldi was listed in serious condition and Wynne was in critical condition, both suffering from second and third-degree burns.
Two workers from a garbage company saw the crash.
"It came down nose-first and then just blew up in a fireball," said Joseph Liikala, 40, of Homosassa.
Liikala was driving a garbage truck for Superior Waste Service along Boston Street, a few blocks away from the Ted Williams Baseball Museum in Citrus Hills, when he saw the plane hit the ground.
Liikala and Michael Bigwood, 24, of Inverness, parked their truck and ran about 200 yards to the crash site, a field between Boston Street and Cumberland Court. When they arrived, the plane was on fire, and the men inside it were struggling to get out.
"The passenger got out first, and he was on fire. His clothes were burning on his legs and arms," Liikala said. "The pilot then got out, ran over to him and put him down on the ground to put the fire out. But he was burned pretty bad."
Wynne builds engines for experimental aircraft, according to his mother, Emma Wynne of New Jersey. She didn't know any details of Saturday's crash. Wynne's Web site, however, lists his business as The Corvair Authority in Port Orange. Wynne converts Corvair automobile engines into airplane engines.
The pilot told deputies they were on a recreational flight, said Citrus County Sheriff's Lt. Charlie Simmons. Wynne maintains an aircraft hanger in the community of Spruce Creek, near Ocala in Marion County.
Paramedics treated the victims on site until the helicopter from Tampa General Hospital arrived.
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