After clipping treetops and TV antennas above two homes, a single-engine plane crashed yesterday into the yard of a Chestertown home, where its impact was cushioned by a skateboard ramp.
The Cessna airplane and the skateboard ramp -- where two young children had been sitting with a kitten moments earlier -- were demolished. But the pilot, Steven M. Beres, 25, of Baltimore, walked away from the wreckage with minor injuries.
"God was in Chestertown today, I'm telling you," said Assistant Chief Kenneth W. Neal of the town's volunteer fire department, still marveling hours later that no major injury or death resulted, and that the plane did not go up in flames.
"No -- God was at our house," said Kathleen Clark, whose youngest child, Matthew, 9, was standing about 20 feet away from the point of impact. "He was watching out for everyone.''
"We still have three children. We still have a truck that was parked in the driveway. The pilot is alive, and the only thing we lost is a skateboard ramp," she said.
Matthew, a student at Worton Elementary School, said a playmate, Jacob Tucker, 12, had gone into the house and he was standing on the front steps when the plane flew low down the street, brushed the trees and two rooftop TV antennas across from his home, and a wing clipped a telephone pole.
The impact with the pole, about 25 feet from the Clark home, spun the plane around and it dropped straight down onto the skateboard ramp, the family said.
Matt's brother Eric, 17, and father, Gregory Clark, 45, ran to the plane and found the pilot standing alongside the wreckage. Mr. Beres told them his neck hurt, and they convinced him to lie down on the grass until help arrived.
"He was trying to land in the field behind our house, a big cornfield," Mrs. Clark said, "but because the wing caught that telephone pole, he couldn't make it. When it came down there was no sound. His engines were out. Nobody heard anything until the wing hit the telephone pole."
"He was a really lucky fella," Chestertown Police Chief Wayne Bradley said of Mr. Beres. "He evidently must be a decent pilot. He maneuvered that plane between trees."
The assistant fire chief said fuel appeared to be leaking from the plane, and the volunteer firefighters covered it with foam as a precaution.
"The guy had just filled up with fuel. His tanks were full. He left the airport and as he started to climb he lost power," said Chief Bradley, adding that the pilot was trying to return to the Chestertown airport, Scheeler Field, when the aircraft came down about a quarter-mile from the runway.
Mr. Beres was released after treatment at nearby Kent and Queen Anne's Hospital, and returned to the crash site to talk to investigators. "He had a neck brace on, and scrapes on his shoulder from seat belts in the plane," the police chief said.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.