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3 dead after plane crashes into Fla. house

By Melissa Gray, CNN
January 4, 2013 -- Updated 2338 GMT (0738 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The pilot reported mechanical problems
  • Plane was en route to Knoxville, Tennessee, when it crashed
  • There was no immediate information on injuries

(CNN) -- A small plane crashed into a home in eastern Florida on Friday, killing all three people aboard, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

It happened at 2:22 p.m., 12 minutes after the pilot declared an emergency, saying the plane was severely shaking, the highway patrol said.

A middle-aged woman who lived alone in the house dived through a closed window to get out after the plane hit, neighbor Joe McBride, 71, told CNN. The highway patrol said she was taken to the hospital, but they did not have details on her injuries.

"She went right through the glass window," McBride said. "She's banged up, but she's going to be all right."

He added, "She's lucky to be alive because that house is a wreck."

The Beechcraft BE35 was en route to Knoxville Downtown Island Airport in Tennessee, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta. It wasn't immediately known from where the plane originated.

The plane was diverting to Flagler County Airport, near the coast about 30 miles north of Daytona Beach, when it crashed a mile east of the airport, Bergen said.

Video from CNN affiliate Central Florida News 13 showed white smoke rising from a large, black hole in the one-story house, which is surrounded by trees. Parts of the roof were melted away.

"Because of the steepness of the trees in the area, the tall pine trees, it looks like it was a pretty steep descent and it went right into the roof," Lt. Justin Asbury of the highway patrol said.

McBride said he was looking outside when the plane passed low overhead not more than 40 feet in the air, he estimated.

"I could look into it, almost," he said.

The plane was making an odd sound as it passed overhead, as if it was stalling, he said. "It sounded like the engine wasn't running right at all."

The plane took down all the utility wires on the street, which is in a rural residential area with many retirees.

He said it appeared the plane was going in the general direction of the airport, but not directly toward it.

CNN's Dave Alsup, Marlena Baldacci, and Joe Sutton contributed to this report

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