NewsPolk County


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

Posted at 1:35 PM, Feb 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 05:50:13-05

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A 17-year-old girl is lucky to be alive after a plane crashed through the roof of her home and pinned her against a wall, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

"This was a day of miracles," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a press conference.

17-year-old suffers minor injuries after plane crashes through home, pins her against wall

The plane crashed into the Winter Haven home just before 1 p.m. on Saturday. There were two people on board, a pilot and a trainee student. The pilot, 64-year-old James Wagner of Lakeland, was killed in the crash. The trainee, 33-year-old Timothy Sheehy of Montana, walked away with only minor injuries, according to the sheriff's office. It's unclear at this time who was flying the plane.

“It was a day of miracles because Timothy Sheehy, the trainee pilot, actually walked out of the crash, if you can believe that," Judd said. "Walked out of the crash, and was wandering around when Winter Haven firefighters arrived.”

Judd said the two men were flying with the goal to simulate engine failure training. It's unknown if they were simulating engine failure at the time of the crash, Judd said.

They took off from Winter Have Airport then the aircraft lost power soon after.

The 17-year-old girl who was in a bedroom the plane crashed through was taken to the hospital with only minor injuries.

“Not only was she in the bedroom that the plane crashed into, but she was pinned and entrapped in the bedroom,” Judd said.

The teenager's brother, who was in a neighboring room, tried to free her but was unable to, according to Judd. She was later freed by Winter Haven firefighters.

The mother of the teenager was also in the home at the time, and three children were playing in the driveway. They were not injured.

The plane was still stuck in the home until Sunday afternoon. Firefighters stayed on the scene until it was considered safe.

Wagner's son in law said he loved flying. They said he got in the plane with the student pilot as a favor for a friend.

"The man got to do what he loved for a living, you know. We lost him today, but he passed doing what he loved, which was flying, teaching." Luis Nunez said.

Nunez said his father-in-law has been flying since he was a teenager. He said he served in the US Air Force and at one time flew for Publix and Jimmy Buffet. His family said his experience was one thing, but the example he set for the family meant so much more. They said Wagner was a family man.

"To him family is everything and he set the tone for us as a family and we're just going to miss him. We're going to miss him dearly," Wagner said.

The Red Cross said they are helping the family who lives inside the home where the plane crashed. They are helping them with immediate needs like a place to stay, food, and clothing.