Small plane crashes near airpark in Clearwater

- Investigators with the FAA, NTSB, and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office are investigating a small plane that crashed in Clearwater Sunday morning. 

According to the pilot, 61-year-old Marc Benedict, he took off from Zephyrhills Airport heading towards Clearwater just after 10:00 a.m.  He reported that the noticed a a problem with the engine while he was over the area of Sunset Road and Belcher Road in Clearwater. 

Benedict told investigators he did not feel like the single-engine plane would make it back to the airport and began to search for a safe plane to land. Benedict spotted an area on Keene Road and attempted to land. While doing so, the plane's left wing hit a tree, causing the plane to spin and crash at 1817 North Keene Road. 

A witness, Maureen Ramirez, said she thought the plan was going to crash right into her. 

"I jumped off my bike and just started running. It was like a scene from a movie."

Deputies say both Benedict and his passenger were not hurt in the incident. 

Anthony Tsiouklas says he's been flying with Benedict for more than a decade, according to him, the maneuver they made Sunday morning shows just how skilled a pilot he is.

"They did the right thing, you know they noticed something was wrong, something wasn't going right and they aimed for a road and kept it away from other houses and people."

The investigation is being conducted by the FAA and NTSB. There is no word yet as to what caused the crash. 

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