A plane crashed into the back of a home belonging to Orioles pitcher Jason Grimsley yesterday morning, killing at least two people in Overland Park, Kan., but not injuring the veteran reliever or his family.
The twin-engine Cessna 421, which was headed to Florida, hit a retaining wall near the house. Five people were scheduled to take the flight, but it's unclear whether every passenger was on board.
Grimsley, who underwent ligament-reconstruction surgery on his right elbow three months ago, had taken his truck to a dealership to have the brakes repaired, and his two sons were in school. Grimsley's wife, Dana, their daughter, Rayne, and a friend were home at the time of the crash but escaped unharmed.
"This is something you certainly don't think about happening to you, but they're doing fine," said Grimsley's agent, Joe Bick, who spoke to the pitcher numerous times yesterday.
Kevin Behan, a member of the Orioles' public relations staff, contacted Bick about the crash shortly before noon.
"He said, `Joe, I don't want to alarm you, but we just got a call from a Kansas City TV station and they said an airplane has crashed into Jason's house," Bick said. "I put him on hold and called Jason's cell phone and he answered it. I said, `Are you OK?' and he said, `Yeah.' I said, `Are Dana and the kids OK?' and he said, `Yeah, everything's fine.' I explained to him that I heard a plane hit his house and he said, `That is correct.' You'd have to be in a state of shock, I would think."
Grimsley joined the Orioles on June 21 in a trade with the Kansas City Royals, agreeing to an extension through the 2005 season. He went 2-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 41 games.
Debris from the plane pierced a wall of the house, and Bick said many of the windows were broken. Grimsley normally would have been sitting in the room closest to the impact, reading his newspaper, watching television and drinking coffee.
"They're very, very fortunate that none of them were hurt," Bick said. "The house took some significant damage, the back of it in particular, but it could have been a whole lot worse. The retaining wall that parallels the house about 15 feet behind it took the brunt of the impact. Basically, whatever ended up hitting the house was disintegrating pieces, and there wasn't much fire, which was also fortunate."
The wreckage forced Grimsley and his family to leave their home and make other sleeping arrangements.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.