EAST MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A single engine private plane crashed into a Porter area neighborhood around 10 p.m. Monday night, after a missed approach landing at Williams Field. The plane struck a tree as it went nose down on Oak Knoll Drive at Old Houston Road, about 50 feet from a residence. The pilot survived the crash and was pulled from the wreckage by good Samaritans who lived nearby. He was responsive, but had head trauma that was serious but not believed to be life threatening according to medical personnel. Montgomery County Hospital District medics transported the pilot to a landing zone at Williams Field where a PHI Air Medical helicopter flew him to the Texas Medical Center in Houston. The pilot ws identified as Court Koenning, age 37 of Humble.
Bill Porter said he heard the low flying plane as it struck his tree, taking off a wing, and then spinning around before crashing to the ground in his neighbor’s yard.
Steve Richards, who lives on the next street, said he heard a loud crash and when he went out to investigate, he saw the downed plane and jumped the fence rushing to help the pilot, along with James Bachelor – another neighbor. But it was 21-year-old Joseph Branstetter who first reached the pilot. Branstetter and his mother Cathy live in the residence where the plane crashed. While Cathy Branstetter dialed 911, her son ran out to the plane. With no regard for his own safety, he ignored the strong smell of spilled fuel as he and neighbor Gregory Cook pulled the pilot from the plane. Cook called Joseph Branstetter “a real hero,” but Branstetter was reluctant to take credit for his heroism.
The pilot was upside down and twisted with his back toward the men, Joseph Branstetter said. He was covered in blood, but was conscious and they tried to keep him awake, Branstetter said. Removing the victim from the plane was “a little hard,” he said.
Multiple agencies were on-scene, including the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Porter Fire Department.. The FAA is investigating and will be on the scene throughout the day Tuesday.
According to the FAA the Cirrue aircraft in which he was flying is equipped with a parachute. In case of an engine failure the pilot can deploy it. In Monday night’s crash the pilot deployed the chute but due to it’s close proximity to the ground it was ineffective.
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