Man survives plane crash into yard |

Man survives plane crash into yard

by F.T. Norton
Brad Horn/Tribune News Service Carson City Firefighters extract Elroy "Buzz" Devoll from his plane after the single-engine plane crashed into a work shed at 3421 Debbie Lane in Carson City on Thursday.

A Carson City man, who had recently been given permission to fly solo, remained in serious condition after his single-engine airplane crashed into an East Carson City back yard Thursday morning, authorities said.

Federal investigators were still trying to determine why Elroy “Buz” Devoll’s Piper Cherokee briefly touched down on a runway at the Carson City Airport before taking off again and landing on a soundwall off Graves Lane with its nose punching through the roof of a backyard shed.

Devoll, 50, was taken by Care Flight helicopter to Washoe Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition, said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.

“We usually hear the planes taking off in the morning, but this morning we heard boom, boom, boom,” said Brenda Martin who had just woken up at her home in the 3400 block of Debbie Way when Devoll’s plane landed in her yard.

Martin said her fiance, Jay Bradley, ran outside, then came back inside and told her to grab their daughter Marcela.

“It’s leaking gasoline, call 911,” Martin recalled Bradley saying.

After calling police, Martin said, she yelled out the back door to whomever was in the plane, “Help is on the way,” and got no response.

Firefighters spent more than an hour stabilizing the plane and cutting away at the fuselage to remove Devoll from the cockpit. The novice flier was bleeding but conscious and able to talk with paramedics, firefighter Bob Schreihans said.

Nevada Department of Transportation Pilot Gary Phillips said he was preparing for a flight when he noticed Devoll’s plane.

“I saw the plane on final approach to the runway. I saw him come down, to where he was touching down on the runway or close to it, then he started to come back up and he went off to the left side and across (Graves Lane) and hit the soundwall and the tree where he ended up,” Phillips said.

Two trees in the median had their tops sheared off as the plane buzzed over the roadway.

Phillips called police, then jumped into his car with fire extinguishers, rushing the two blocks east from the airport entrance to where the plane rested.

“I could tell the pilot was still in the plane and alive and people were talking to him,” he said.

For little more than an hour, homeowner Lynn Bradley stood in his yard and watched as Devoll was removed and firefighters sprayed foam on the gasoline that was soaking into the ground.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a lot of faith in this wall now,” he said of the 10-foot-tall cinderblock wall the city put in to soundproof the neighborhood. “If it’s going to keep planes and trucks out of my yard and keep my family and granddaughter safe, build another one.”

The soundwall was still standing and appeared to have sustained only minor damage.

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