Liberty plane crash survivors call safe landing a ‘miracle’

Local News

LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s a story we first brought you Saturday, when emergency responders were sent to the scene of the emergency landing in a wooded area off Homestead Road in Liberty.

On Monday, Trumbull County reporter Nadine Grimley spoke with a passenger on board the plane and the pilot who’s credited for landing it safely so that everyone made it out alive.

Not even 48 hours after surviving a plane crash, Melissa Fike was back working at Niles Pet Salon.

“None of us had a scratch on us, I mean not a mark. It’s just, it’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing,” Fike said.

Meanwhile, her stepfather Chris Tornello, the pilot of the plane, was back in Liberty preparing to remove the aircraft from the woods off Homestead Road so the FAA and NTSB could complete their investigation.

“It’s important that everybody knows if there’s a problem with it, what it is and how to fix it,” he said.

Tornello, Fike and her daughter went on a quick 30-minute flight aboard the Cessna 172G Saturday afternoon. They were testing out a new safety device on the plane which provides other pilots and the control tower all sorts of information about the plane and its coordinates.

Fike, who has flight experience herself, says everything was going great until they were getting ready to land at Landsdowne Airport.

“The engine, you kept hearing it cut in and cut out, so you knew it wasn’t going well,” she said.

Tornello says in his 42 years flying, he’s never had an engine stop like this.

“You’re second-guessing yourself you don’t really know what to do but I kept trying to restart the engine and it just wouldn’t come back on,” he said.

He knew he was going to have to make an emergency landing so he deployed full flaps and slowed the plane down, bringing it to a stop in the trees about 200 yards away from the end of the runway.

DISPATCHER: “911?”
CALLER: “Hi, yes, there was a plane that landed in my backyard.”

“When we hit, I was really just shocked because I was like, ‘That was it. We’re OK.’ I was amazed. My stepdad did the best job he could have possibly did with that situation,” Fike said.

Tornello says he’s just glad everyone walked away safe.

“Fortunately, I did everything I was supposed to do and it turned out really well. I mean, the plane is expendable, the fact that all of us walked away without a scratch is the miracle of this situation,” he said.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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