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Witnesses, Fire Officials Describe Scene of Plane Crash in Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A family survived a small plane crash Saturday morning near the intersection of 56th Street and Park Avenue just moments after take off.

As the crash occurred, witnesses rushed towards the scene of twisted metal and flames.

“Everybody was running towards the crash and everybody didn`t know exactly, it was kind of frantic,” said witness Katelyn Lovgren.

Down the street at Orlondo's Bar and Grill, the preparation for a group bike ride came to a screeching halt.

“All of a sudden our electric went out, I mean just, Bam!” said Patrick Renda. “We run out and see this big black cloud of smoke on 63rd and Park and somebody had come by and said ‘oh my god we just had a plane crash.’”

Power lines had been clipped by the plane and smoke and flames rose through the air.

Incredibly, the pilot, his wife, and two children walked away from the crash without injury.

“The fire crews say a parachute helped save the lives on board," said Brian O’Keefe of the Des Moines Fire Department. “The plane was equipped with a parachute so when the pilot found out his plane wasn`t performing at 900 feet in the air, he pulled the ripcord allowing the plane to float down to earth. He saw the open area here and the minimum altitude to safely deploy the chute is right in that 800-900 foot altitude so he got into a safe area and deployed it.”

O’Keefe says the pilot and his family were headed to Virginia from Des Moines. The NTSB is investigating the crash.