PICKENS, S.C. - Four occupants of a small airplane escaped serious injury Sunday when the plane's engine stalled and the pilot deployed a parachute that brought the craft safely into a stand of trees in northwestern South Carolina, according to a local official.
It happened about 5 p.m. Sunday, not far from the Pickens County Airport, Sheriff's Capt. Keith Galloway said.
He said the plane had taken off from another state and was in the Pickens County area when the engine quit and the pilot couldn't restart it.
``They were in the vicinity of the airport when they started to experience some engine trouble,'' Galloway said. The pilot was aiming for the airport, he said, but couldn't make it.
``Fortunately he had a parachute-equipped airplane as a safety device,'' Galloway said. ``He deployed the parachute on the airplane and it slowed the airplane down and it glided into a stand of trees about a mile and a half to two miles from the runway.''
Galloway said the craft came to rest about 15 to 20 feet up in a stand of trees. Multiple emergency response agencies using ladders helped free the occupants. Galloway said they were checked by medical personnel, but there were no life-threatening injuries.
``They were very lucky,'' he said.
Galloway did not have the identities of the four, nor did he know where the flight originated.
He said the plane was a Cirrus. According to the Cirrus Aircraft website, an airframe parachute is standard equipment on all airplanes manufactured by the company.
The plane remained in the trees Sunday night. Galloway said local authorities secured the scene at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration. He said federal investigators would survey the site on Monday.
Pickens County sits on the North Carolina line, near northeastern Georgia.