NORTHGLENN, CO - The pilot of a single-engine Piper PA-25 Pawnee crashed into the Colorado house he sold in 2003.
The plane was pulling a large advertising banner for GEICO just before it crashed, witnesses said.
The pilot was identified as Brian Veatch, an employee of Drag‘n’Fly Banners out of Larkspur, Colorado. He is also a veteran South Metro Fire firefighter.
Veatch owns a home in Northglenn about a mile from the crash site, according to public records. The records also indicate -- and Veatch confirmed -- that he owned the house where he crashed, although he said he didn't realize it until someone asked him about it after the crash.
South Metro Fire said Veatch was able to lower himself from the cockpit of the wrecked plane into the second floor of the house where he was able to escape and call 911 about the crash.
The plane caught fire after the crash, also catching the two-story house on fire which spread all the way to the basement, the fire department said. There was no immediate damage estimate on the house. The plane was a total loss.
Witnesses said the pilot released the banner seconds before the crash and it landed several blocks away.
A report from the FAA that the pilot parachuted before the crash was apparently made in error. The owner of the banner company, Tom Mace, said he believes the FAA confused the advertising banner with a parachute. He also said the planes that pull banners aren't equipped with parachutes.
Veatch was treated at the scene of the crash and then released.
No one was home at the time of the crash, a fire official said, but firefighters were able to safely rescue two pet dogs and a lizard from the burning home.
Witnesses said the pilot was flying the plane carrying a commercial banner behind it when the plane started going down.
An eyewitness told Scripps sister station 7NEWS the plane was clearly in trouble as it passed over them near 112th Avenue and Huron Street.
"It was carrying a large GEICO banner that was probably about 200 feet off the ground," said Shanna Rudd. "The airplane had its nose up as it went down."
The plane is owned by Airspeed Enterprises LLC, at the current Northglenn address of Veatch, according to FAA records. According to public records, Veatch bought the house on Livingston Drive in 2000 and then sold it in 2003.
The Federal Aviation Administration has taken over the investigation of the crash.