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Plane Crashes into Northwest Austin Office Building

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Austin-American Statesman
Thursday, February 18, 2010

According to an FBI agent who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to release information, the incident is being investigated as an accident, although eyewitnesses said the plane seemed to come in at full throttle. He said the plane was out of Waco and that Federal Aviation Administration officials are en route to the scene.

The agent said it was believed the plane had come from Waco, and that witnesses said it had hit the building at full-throttle.

FBI sources said that the eyewitness accounts saying that the plane did not slow down is making some authorities wonder if it was an intentional act.

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Sarah Whelan, 28, was also driving on the overpass from MoPac onto U.S. 183 north on her way to work when she saw the plane on her right, flying low over the shops across the street from the building that was hit.

She said all the cars in front of me started slowing down because the plane looked like it could it land on the highway.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

“It wasn’t heading into the direction of the building but all of a sudden it took a right and headed straight into it,” Whelan said. “It didn’t look like it was in distress. It wasn’t wavering at all.

“The first thing I did was start praying and saying, ‘I can’t believe it.’” she said. “It was a feeling of disbelief and helplessness.”

Tucker Thurman was driving to work on the U.S. 183 flyover near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) when he said he saw a small plane, very low, flying over the highway. He said he saw it then bank heavily to the right before heading into the building.

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Austin police say a plane has crashed into a building in the 9400 block of Research Boulevard.

Austin-Travis County EMS Assistant Director James Shamard said smoke is visible for at least a mile and that paramedics have set up a triage center at the scene. “We have no idea right now if there are any patients, or how many.”

EMS officials said it was a seven-story building and that two people were unaccounted for. A witness said it was the Echelon I building.

An FBI official said it was believed the plane had come from Waco, and that witnesses said it had hit the building at full-throttle.

Tucker Thurman was driving to work on the U.S. 183 flyover near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) when he said he saw a small plane, very low, flying over the highway. He said he saw it then bank heavily to the right before heading into the building.

“There was a huge fireball. It went right into the building,” Thurman said.

EMS officials said they have taken at least two patients to the hospital, but that there are several “walking wounded” at the scene.

Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr said that the department has gone into a “defensive position,” meaning that firefighters have been ordered to retreat from the building because of the danger.

Full story here.

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Said one witness: “It was a really speedy dive. It (hit) between the first and second floors in Echelon III. A gigantic firegballl came out about 50 feet wide, the windows blew out. It was a whoosh, a roar and a boom.”

Emergency crews are on the scene, and two people are still unaccounted for, fire officials say. The IRS and the CIA all have offices in that office complex, witnesses say.

This article was posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 9:58 am





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