SEBRING, Fla. — Two people were killed in a gyroplane crash at a mobile home park, catching two homes on fire, authorities say.
Highlands County deputies say the copter crashed just before 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Sebring Falls mobile home park. No one was inside either of the homes at the time of the crash; one was damaged while the other destroyed.
"It was an inferno just right off the bat, I’d never seen anything like it," said Randy Meyers, who lives just a few houses away.
“I was inside the house and saw the shadow out the window and I heard him rev his engine back up and then it started sputtering and when it sputtered there was a big explosion.”
Deputies identified the two victims as 45-year-old Christopher Lord, the gyroplane's pilot, and passenger Christopher Brugger, 52.
Authorities say Lord is the owner of Gyroplaneguy, Inc., which operates out of the Sebring Regional Airport. The company's website says Lord was a pilot and instructor who had "logged thousands of hours in over 34 models of gyroplanes."
Lord was flying Brugger to a Manatee County airport when the crash happened. While it's unclear what caused the aircraft to experience distress, witnesses reported seeing the copter clip some power lines as it went down into a mobile home.
No one was home at the time.
“The power lines did not cause the crash," said Scott Dressel, the public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. "There was something that went on before that.”
A man working on a home next door suffered burns to his arm and leg. He was taken to a local hospital.
The adjacent home being worked on suffered heavy damage to one side, while the home on the other side had cosmetic damage
“You couldn’t tell there was a helicopter there," said neighbor Diance Clark. "It was just massive flames.”
The FAA tweeted it will investigate the crash. Highlands deputies will investigate the deaths.
“This is a tragic event for the two families involved of the people who were in the gyrocopter but we are fortunate it wasn’t worse," Dressel said.10News reporter Josh Sidorowicz contributed to this report.
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