A professional rodeo cowboy crashed his plane while making an emergency landing Friday morning, injuring himself, his girlfriend and their two dogs.
The Texas Department of Public Safety confirms 32-year-old pilot York Gill and 30-year-old Christy Stransky had engine trouble moments after taking off from Clark Field Municipal Airport in Stephenville at about 10 a.m.
Jaci Harris lives along the highway and said she looked out her back window just seconds before the plane crashed.
“I happened to kinda glance out the window and I saw the plane just hit the ground on its belly and then it slid down the road and across the highway,” she said. “By the time I made it to the front door it was already flipped over.”
Harris said it appeared as if Gill was trying to land the plane in her field and she’s grateful he didn’t hit her house.
“If he was just a few a football field lengths closer to my house, it would’ve been, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to your right now,” she said.
Gill, a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, tried to land the plane on U.S. Highway 67 but due to traffic ended up off the road and in a ditch where the single-engine Piper PA-32R flipped over.
The DPS said Gill and Stransky, who were coherent when flown to Fort Worth's John Peter Smith Hospital, said they were on the way to a wedding in Wharton.
The hospital said Friday evening Gill was in serious condition and Stansky was in fair condition with injuries that are not life threatening. They will spend at least one night in the hospital.
DPS officials said the dogs were taken to a local vet where one was believed to be in serious condition.
“You know, it’s a sad deal. And we wish him the best,” said Billy Huckaby, announcer for the Stockyards Championship Rodeo in Fort Worth.
Huckaby told NBC 5 Gill has competed several times at the Stockyards over the years, and that he is well-respected in the industry.
“He’s a great guy. He’s a rodeo cowboy. He’s one of the top Team Ropers in the world. Unfortunate accident earlier today,” Huckaby said.
NBC 5 has learned the plane's registration with the Federal Aviation Administration shows Gill as the owner and that he has a pilot's license.
Officials with the FAA and DPS are investigating the crash.
NBC 5's Ben Russell contributed to this report.