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72-Year-old Decatur man survives second brush with death in crash landing

BANGOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A pilot narrowly escaped his second brush with death after crashing his plane into a cow pasture while making his second emergency landing in less than 24-hours.

William Lawson, 72, of Decatur safely landed his 1953 Piper Tri-pacer in a cornfield near the intersection of 68th Street and County Road 378 just before noon on Tuesday after experiencing engine trouble.

“We noticed that the engine was cutting out, at first we thought it was a crop duster because we have a lot of that,” described Sandra Karr, who lives nearby. “But come to find out it wasn’t.”

Karr’s husband David had also noticed the plane circling over their fields while driving, but didn’t realize that the plane had been forced to land.

“Look out there, an airplane landed right next to your house,” a neighbor told David Karr.  “I thought he was kidding at first.”

Karr drove over to the plane and found Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputies, but there was no trace of the pilot.  According to the sheriff’s reports, deputies later found William Lawson at his house where he had gone to pick up tools and a mechanic to help repair his plane.

On Wednesday Lawson tried to take-off from the field, but again experienced engine trouble.  According to the sheriff’s report the plane stalled about 30-feet in the air and Lawson banked when he realized he wasn’t going to clear a cluster of trees at the end of the field.  He tried to bring the plane down in the Karr’s cow pasture, but the front wheel dug into the ground and flipped the plane.

“It looked like it nosed down and tipped right over,” Sandra Karr described.  “I thought he was going to be gone, I was scared to even go, but I knew I had to.”

She jumped into her car and drove to the site of the crash, Lawson’s mechanic had already pulled him from the plane.

“He was bleeding from the head and his one shoe was off and he said that his one ankle was hurting,” described Karr.

An ambulance rushed Lawson to South Haven Hospital Emergency Room, he was released shortly after.  A family friend told ABC57 that Lawson suffered cuts to his face and a broken ankle, but is doing well.

“It was a very scary situation and I don’t want to go through it again,” explained Sandra Karr.  “I just don’t want any more airplanes in my fields.”

According to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

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