‘I couldn’t bear having that on my chest’: Witness helps 2 men hurt in San Marcos plane collision


SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Two men were taken to the hospital after two planes collided at San Marcos Regional Airport Thursday evening.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the crash happened at 7:18 p.m. and involved two small planes. Those planes were removed from the airport Friday.

Federal Aviation Administration said the planes, a Team Rockets F1 Experimental aircraft and a Cessna 172, collided while trying to land.

A witness who works in Hays Consolidated Independent School District transportation happened to see that collision on his way home from work. He helped save two men inside one of the planes.

“I didn’t think anything of it, until I saw that they were flying low, and they were pretty close to the ground. I dove into the plane, and I started trying to brace him, so we could get the tension off his seatbelt,” said Zane Juarez. “It was more of my instinct. I couldn’t bear having that on my chest if someone got was hurt, especially when I see two planes falling from the sky.”

DPS reported, “the crash caused one aircraft to flip and the other to catch on fire and become fully engulfed.” The experienced pilot inside the plane that caught fire walked away safely.

Zane Juarez helped save two of the three crash victims.

Two men—an instructor and student—in the other aircraft were taken to the hospital. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, DPS said.

Michael Slack, an aviation attorney, offered some expert advice on the nature of communication at the San Marcos airport.

Slack says while the airport does have a control tower, it does not operate 24/7. In fact, the tower closes at 7 p.m., when the incident happened minutes later.

“There could be some confusion as to whether the pilot says he had access to air traffic control from the San Marcos tower,” said Slack. “The other thing is once the tower closes, then there are defined rules as to how pilots should communicate on a common frequency.”

DPS, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating, according to San Marcos police. The cause of the crash is still unknown.

The airport is located off Airport Drive, northeast of downtown San Marcos.

Above video courtesy of Brooke Durham

In November 2019, a pilot was killed in a small passenger plane crash at the airport. Officials said a minute after taking off, the plane lost contact with air traffic control.

  • San Marcos plane crash Sept. 24 (KXAN/Andrew Choat)
  • One of the planes that collided at San Marcos Regional Airport was removed Sept. 25, 2020 (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)

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