Pilot’s Skill Credited with Saving Passengers in Kansas Plane Crash

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HOLTON, Kan. -- A plane crash north of Topeka late Thursday night still has everyone involved just shaking their heads in amazement after somehow everyone on board survived.

The crash happened last night just west of Holton, Kansas. The plane is badly damaged but all three men in the plane survived.

The front seat passenger was the most seriously injured - air ambulance took him to University of Kansas Hospital Thursday night with what appeared to be a broken pelvic bone. But the other two men literally walked away from the plane's wreckage.

"You look at that and can't believe they were able to live through that," says friend of the pilot and co-owner of the plane, Jay Hubbell. He had to see the wreckage for himself. He says his friend, pilot David Osborne, did an amazing job piloting the plane to safety.

"I think a pilots worst nightmare is an engine failure at night and off airport landing," Hubble says. "It's even worse with no moon and it's overcast so no starlight. So he faced the worst situation that he could."

Sheriff Tim Morse says the crash happened just before 10:00 p.m. Thursday, as the three men were returning to Topeka from a trip to North Dakota when the pilot reported that his cabin was filling with smoke.

"They lost their engine and they were trying to find a place to land but it was pitch dark outside," says Morse. "They saw some car lights on N Road so that's where they chose to land."

The plane clipped some trees on the way down and tore off the wing, but the sheriff's amazed that's all that went wrong.

"Narrowly missed a home, narrowly missed a power line," he says. "Things turned out pretty well."

The backseat passenger, Stephen Graff, had only minor bruises. Osborne was also banged up but walked away from the wreckage. Front seat passenger Steven Stutzman was most critically injured, but friends are calling the whole thing nothing short of a miracle.

"Lot of help from the good Lord and a lot of skill as a pilot," says Hubbell. "He did well."

The only casualty is the plane itself, a 1964 Comanche that had been in Hubbell's family since his dad bought it in 1966.

"It's like losing a family member but when you get down to it as long as everybody is all right that's what counts," said Hubbell.

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