Update 2:30 p.m. Sept. 16: The pilot has been identified as William George Athey, 53, of Odessa, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Update 1:37 p.m. Sept. 16: State Road 52 is now open, according to Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Doug Tobin. No other details about the crash are available at this time.
As motorists pulled into the Citgo station on State Road 52 and U.S. 41 to inquire why they couldn’t proceed eastbound on 52, Pasco County Sheriff’s spokesman Doug Tobin stood ready to answer their questions.
He explained that an Ultralight plane had crashed into power lines at Pilot Country Estates in the Land O’ Lakes area. The pilot, he told motorists who asked, didn’t make it.
Emergency crews were still working to remove the body and free the plane from the wires just after 11 a.m. Sept. 16. The power outage affects the area from Ehren Cutoff to U.S. 41 along State Road 52. It also goes north from that area to County Line Road in Hernando, Tobin said.
While details about the crash remain sketchy as the investigation continues, Tobin said it appears as if the crash happened as the pilot was making an approach into Pilot Country. The pilot is confirmed dead, but officials are not yet releasing a name.
As the scene is cleared, Tobin said State Road 52 from Ehren Cutoff to U.S. 41 would likely remain closed at least until later this afternoon. How long exactly it will take to remove the body and the plane from the power lines is unclear, he said.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has been notified,” Tobin said. “They’re not coming to the scene (at this point). They’re letting us continue (our investigation).”
As emergency crews continue their work, the sheriff’s office is asking motorists to avoid that area of State Road 52. Drivers are asked to use Ehren Cutoff as an alternative route to Interstate 75 and other destinations along State Road 52.
Stay with Patch for details as they become available.