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Deadly Winter Haven plane crash has homeowners worried it could happen again

Posted at 4:59 PM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 18:12:13-05

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A deadly plane crash has Winter Haven neighbors worried it could happen again. They worry next time it could happen to them.

ABC Action News crunched the numbers and found out this is not the first plane to go down near Idylwild Ridge Way.

Winter Haven’s regional airport is less than a mile from the neighborhood where dozens of planes fly in and out each day.

Accord to NTSB investigations, there have been 16 planes to go down which were either scheduled to leave or return to the Winter Haven airport. That number includes Saturday’s crash.

17-year-old survives with minor injuries after plane crashes through Winter Haven home, pins her against wall

Of those 16, seven crashes were fatal and six crashes landed onto property other than the airport.

“This is too close to home,” Nora Muniz said. It’s not her first time seeing a plane crash near her home.

Reports show a small engine plane landed on Highway 92 in Winter Haven, while Muniz says she was in traffic on her way home.

“Not a good feeling at all, very scary,” she said.

We asked the NTSB if there’s increased risk when living closer to an airport, but a spokesperson tells us they only comment on their specific investigations.

ABC Action News compared the data to Lakeland’s history of plane crashes. In the last ten years, Lakeland has only seen about 11 crashes, in which four people died.

Lakeland Regional Airport is a much bigger and busier airport in comparison to Winter Haven’s air base. 

While neighbors say they’re worried about it happening to them, they haven’t said they’ll be moving anytime soon.

“Could have been my house and it’s very scary,” Muniz said.


In a statement Monday, the surviving pilot in training, Tim Sheehy, sent ABC Action News this statement:

“I can share I have been a pilot for 12 years and have over 1500 hours, a commercial license and am a Certified Flight Instructor. Jim had over 40 years experience flying and was one of the most experienced seaplane pilots in the world. This was a freak accident and a tragedy. If Jim couldn’t save the plane than no one could. You can find open source history about my background, I am a combat wounded navy seal and worked to provide aid to the crash site after impact. Again- it was a tragic day but it could have been much worse. I am just thankful there were not more people in the home. Thank you for your understanding.”