SEBRING, Fla. -- “Mayday, mayday, mayday.”
You can hear the pilot’s last words as a gyroplane falls from the sky. Investigators are in Sebring trying to figure out what caused it to crash into two mobile homes Tuesday afternoon.
They say pilot Chris Lord and his passenger Christopher Brugger died in the fiery crash.
Paul Federico watched it unfold from about a half mile away while he was driving on US 27.
“It's a completely helpless feeling, because you know there's nothing you can do to affect the outcome,” Federico said.
He explained that he saw the aircraft do a nosedive from about 200 feet.
“One or two heartbeats later, you've got that really, really ugly black cloud,” he said.
He called 911, but that was all he could do.
Both men were experienced pilots. Brugger's friend remembers him as a loving husband and dad of two daughters.
“For his friends and his family, it will be a hole that will never be filled,” Larry Kemick, a friend of Brugger, said.
People in Manatee County will remember him as a compassionate chiropractor who truly cared about his patients.
“After becoming a chiropractor and going to school in Georgia, he did come back to Manatee County to serve this community,” Kemick explained. “That was extremely important to him.”
Federal investigators were on scene of the crash Wednesday morning. They said a lot of the wreckage is melted, but they were able to salvage part of the engine. It could be a year before they figure out what caused the crash.
►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.