Pilot parachutes to safety before plane crashes on Interstate 89 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Pilot parachutes to safety before plane crashes on Interstate 89

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Courtesy: Bonnie Duprey Garrett Courtesy: Bonnie Duprey Garrett
Dan Marcotte-File photo Dan Marcotte-File photo

A burned-out wreck is all that remains of a single-engine biplane after a fiery crash on Interstate 89 northbound in Highgate. Police say shortly after noon Friday, they got the call that a plane crash-landed and burst into flames. They say it's lucky no cars were hit.

"Fortunately it didn't land in the travel lane, it stayed off to the side," Vt. State Police Lt. Garry Scott said.

Police say before the plane crashed, someone parachuted out.

"Something happened to the plane; he knew something was wrong," Scott said.

That someone was the pilot-- Dan Marcotte. He landed in a tree on the other side of the road a ways away and the Highgate fire department had to rescue him.

"He was very upset, emotionally upset, but no real significant injuries right now. He was able to walk, came back to the scene and spoke with investigators," Scott said.

Many Vermonters are likely familiar with Marcotte from the many airshows he has performed in around our region. And this was not Marcotte's first near-miss on I-89. Six years ago he made an emergency landing on the highway-- again after experiencing engine trouble.

Marcotte's longtime girlfriend, Sarah Jo Willey, told WCAX News he was practicing an aerobatic routine just before the crash. She says his parachute worked properly and she's relieved that he's safe. "Dan is okay. Thank GOD!!!! He used his parachute...and it worked just fine," Willey told us.

Police say Marcotte is lucky to have made it out of that fiery crash alive.

"He's lucky that he got out, as you can see. That's a pretty significant crash," Scott said. "He didn't hit any traffic coming northbound. These high speeds, we're pretty lucky that no one else was injured and he's able to essentially walk away from this."

The FAA is investigating this crash to figure out what went wrong. That could determine if any charges will be filed.

Northbound traffic on I-89 was stopped at Exit 21 in Swanton all the way to the Canadian border for nearly an hour after the crash, before one lane reopened. The second lane remained closed until about 3 p.m. as crews work to remove the burned-out wreckage from the highway.

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