Emergency landing goes horribly wrong when plane hits a tree. One man acts to save the sole survivor

"It started burning and the gentleman in the plane started hollering and screaming, and that was when I went to work"
July 3, 2018 5:55 pm Last Updated: July 3, 2018 5:55 pm

A tragic accident shook a Detroit community this month—but it could’ve been even worse, had it not been for the quick-thinking of strangers who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

On Sunday, June 24, a small single-engine plane left Arkansas in the afternoon and was expected to land in Detroit that evening.

However, in flight the plane suffered from low fuel and a landing gear problem and was forced to attempt an emergency landing in an open field.

But the plane struck a tree during the landing and was in a catastrophic crash.

(WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7/Screenshot)

The crash narrowly avoided several houses, and locals immediately fled to the site of the crash.

“The plane went right over my house,” 72-year-old resident Larry Whitfield told the Detroit Free Press. “I was in the house and heard it hit.”

But these onlookers stepped up to be heroes when they realized there was still a chance to save a life.

There was one passenger still alive, trapped inside the plane—so they worked to free him.

“One guy, big guy, by a window couldn’t get out and he couldn’t breathe,” Whitfield said. “I had a stick. Didn’t work, so another guy got an ax.”

That guy was Cordell Owens, who witnessed the crash and was able to free the victim from the plane with the ax.

“It started burning and the gentleman in the plane started hollering and screaming, and that was when I went to work,” Owens told WXYZ.

The plan worked: after Owens struck the plane door, a 17-year-old passenger was able to escape and roll to freedom from the burning wreckage.

The teen was the lone survivor of the plane crash. Tragically, it was his own loved ones who were killed in the wreck.

The victims were Greg Boaz, the 54-year-old owner of Lone Star Grill, and his wife Julie.

Due to the recent tragedy, we will be closed today, thank you for understanding.For those who have not heard, Lone…

Posted by Lone Star Grill on Monday, June 25, 2018

Boaz’s son was brought to the hospital after the wreck. After the tragedy his family members can take solace in the fact that he survived.

“It doesn’t seem real, it’s hard to take in,” Danny Boaz Sr., Greg’s nephew, told Click2Houston. “It’s just real hard on everybody.”

“I just thought it was a miracle that he got out. I mean he’s got smoke in his lungs, and I think he’s burned a little bit on his back and the back of his hands, think it’s third-degree burns, but he’s lucky to be alive.”

(WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7/Screenshot)

It’s a miracle, thanks to the quick-thinking actions of the local bystanders, especially Owens—who’s proud he was able to save the teen’s life, but is modest about his heroics.

“I feel real good about it,” Owens told WXYZ.

“I don’t feel like a hero, but it is something that I had to do.”