Airplane crashes into home; pilot killed

Shortly before 5 p.m. last Friday, a small plane crashed into a house between Covington and Maple Valley. The pilot was killed.

  • Monday, June 2, 2008 1:45pm
  • News

Nikki Devoni stands May 10 in the recreation room where an airplane struck. John Clark and his dad Jack

Shortly before 5 p.m. last Friday, a small plane crashed into a house between Covington and Maple Valley. The pilot was killed.

The King County medical examiner hadn’t released the pilot’s name Monday morning because authorities hadn’t positively identified him.

The house, where resident Rosemary Devoni had just settled in to watch the 5 o’clock news on television, is a few blocks south of the intersection of Covington-Lake Sawyer Road and 180th Avenue Southeast. The location is about two miles southeast of downtown Covington.

Firefighters from King County Fire District 44, also known as Mountain View Fire Department, which covers Black Diamond and unincorporated areas south of Covington and Maple Valley, arrived at the scene within minutes of the crash, according to Kent Fire Department spokesman Kyle Ohashi, who handled requests for information on Mountain View Fire’s behalf.

He said Devoni, reportedly 81 years old, wasn’t injured.

The plane, which had taken off from nearby Crest Airpark, was “engulfed in flames” when firefighters arrived, Ohashi said. He reported the plane hit the roof of the home, which is just northeast of the airpark’s runway, “demolishing one exterior wall before coming to rest in the front yard. Because of the quick response by firefighters, the fire was confined to the plane and didn’t reach the residence.”

Crest’s air strip runs almost parallel to 180th Avenue Southeast, the street Devoni’s home is on in the 30400 block, and it appears that the plane lost power shortly after takeoff before veering off toward the line of homes on acreage off 180th just blocks away, according to reports. The pilot was the only person aboard.

Over the weekend, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration began an investigation into the cause of the crash. Kristi Dunks, an investigator for NTSB based out of the agency’s Western Region Seattle office, said Monday morning that they are just beginning the investigation.

“The FAA responded to the accident scene on Friday evening,” Dunks said. “At this point, we’re in the fact-finding stage. We’re trying to locate pilot and aircraft records, and we’ll be examining the wreckage.”

Dunks said she expects the investigation to take anywhere from six to nine months, and investigators also plan to conduct interviews with family and friends of the pilot, as well as staff members at Crest Airpark.

“We’ll be issuing a preliminary report within five business days of the accident, so likely by the end of this week,” Dunks said. “That will be available on our Web site.”

Staff at Crest Airpark declined to disclose the pilot’s destination before the crash.

Friends and relatives, including her daughter, Nikki Devoni, showed up at Rosemary Devoni’s home Saturday morning to help clean up. The wreckage of the plane was gone by 10:30 a.m. By late Saturday afternoon, the yellow police tape was gone and only a pair of local TV crew trucks remained.

A swath of plywood boarded up the home where the garage once stood, covering up a hole about the size of a garage door. For a while Saturday, furniture in an apparent living room could still be seen through a gaping opening where the plane hit the house.

Crest Airpark, according to its Web site, is a family-owned and operated facility that rents out a fleet of about a dozen different types of small aircraft. Crest also offers flight instruction.

This is the second plane to take off from Crest Airpark in the past six months to crash before arriving at its destination. Thomas Maxwell, 78, of Black Diamond was found dead on Dec. 13 last year in the wreckage of his Piper Dakota after it disappeared from radar on Dec. 6. He was flying from Crest to Thun Field in Puyallup.

Staff writer Kris Hill can be reached at (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054, or by e-mail at khill@reporternewspapers.com

Staff photographer Charles Cortes contributed to this report.

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