By Logan Hall
A single-engine Cessna 182 registered to Ojai resident Bill Burr, crashed on the 12th hole at Soule Park Golf Course Monday at about 5:10 p.m. Pilot Mark King suffered minor cuts and scratches, and declined transport to the hospital. King said he was flying into Santa Paula Airport from Sacramento.Norm Van Wieren and Adrian Frape were on the 12th hole, playing golf when they saw the Cessna overhead. “We were on the tee box on 12 and we saw him above us at probably 1,000 feet,” said Van Wieren. “We heard the engine sputtering and thought he was training. After we hit our shots, we could hear him trying to start the engine back up.” It was then that the two golfers knew something was wrong.“When he was coming down, I thought he was going to land on hole 11 into the wind,” said Frape, “but he banked right and to try to make it to 12 when he clipped the tree.”“We got to the crash site within seconds,” continued Van Wieren. “I saw the door kick open and he crawled out alive. I asked him if he was OK and he said ‘Ya, I’m alright.’ We couldn’t believe he was OK.”Also golfing close by, was Justin Rhoades on the 13th tee box about to tee off when he saw the plane heading for the open areas of the course. “He started getting really low,” said Rhoades, who was golfing with a friend. “He was coming in too fast and started to turn when his wing clipped a tree and he just came down. I dropped my bag and we started running. When we came up to the plane, he (King) was just crawling out and he was looking for his glasses. We were asking him if he was alright, but he couldn’t really hear us at first.”
King was walking around and making cell phone calls when emergency crews arrived on scene. “I remember it hitting the tree and coming down,” said King. “I’m just glad I’m here talking about it.”
Witnesses said that the plane was gliding without engine power as it came down. There was a general consensus on the ground of disbelief that he walked away from the crash. “When we saw him comming down, we thought the worst,” said Mike Bryant, who was playing a round of golf with friends. “I’m just stoked to see the guy walk away.”
Van Wieren and Frape were also glad to see that King survived relatively unharmed. “I’m happy he made it out alive,” said Frape. “When we got there, it did not look good. The guy was lucky. Really, really lucky.”
The Ventura County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department responded quickly and cordoned off the scene.
The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.