Drug-carrying plane crashes in Detroit ballpark
The small plane, possibly en route to Canada, crashed
in a Detroit ballpark Sunday
Looters reportedly grab cargo as pilot lay dying
April 20, 1998
Web posted at: 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539 GMT)
DETROIT (CNN) -- At least two witnesses to a small plane's
crash in a Detroit ballpark helped themselves to the plane's
cargo -- bundles of marijuana -- as the pilot lay dying, area
residents who saw the crash said.
The small, homemade plane, carrying more than 300 pounds of
marijuana, crashed in the ballpark Sunday at 6:11 p.m.,
apparently out of
fuel after a trip of about 1,500 miles. Three U.S. Customs
Service planes had followed the craft after it crossed the
Mexican border near Big Bend National Park, south of El Paso,
Officials believe the pilot might have been trying to escape
to Canada. Agents denied taking any action to force the
pilot to land.
"They began following it covertly, I want to emphasize
covertly," Customs spokesman Vince Bond said. "We can't
shoot them down, we don't shoot them down, we don't ever
force aircraft down. It's unsafe."
Gloria Johnson said she heard a boom, then saw the plane hit
a tree and crash Sunday into a west Detroit ball field next
to a junior high school. She said the pilot was still alive
and talking when neighbors ran to help.
Unmarked bundles littered the crash site
"There were big bundles of drugs and money all around the
plane," Johnson said. "The bundles of marijuana looked like
two big suitcases."
"A couple of guys came to help, then grabbed the bags of
drugs and left," she said. Police would not confirm her
The pilot died at the scene.
Some residents near the field said they were thankful nobody
else had died in the crash. "It was too close to the house,
too close for comfort," said one woman, who added that she
was glad no one was on the playground at the time. 85 K/7 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
CNN affiliate WDIV contributed to this report.