Stunt Pilot Bails by Parachute Just Before Fiery Crash

An aerobatic stunt pilot narrowly escaped by parachute Friday when his single-passenger plane crashed in a fireball onto a northern Vermont interstate, charring the ground beneath it.

Dan Marcotte, an experienced aerobatic stunt performer, bailed from the plane in the nick of time, before it crashed into a lane of Interstate 89 North in Highgate, Vt., near the Canadian border and the Franklin County State Airport, NECN's Jack Thurston reported.

Firefighters found him dangling in his parachute from a tree and cut him down. He was not seriously injured, police said.

"Something happened to the plane; he knew something was wrong," Lt. Garry Scott of the Vt. State Police told NECN. "These high speeds; we're pretty lucky no one else was injured."

The section of I-89 was shut down twice during this emergency: once during the initial frenzy, once as the wreckage was cleared away. At times during the removal of the wreckage, one lane of slow travel was allowed. No drivers were hit when the plane hurtled to the ground.

Marcotte is a well-known pilot who performs tricks at events like the Independence Day celebrations on the Burlington waterfront. His Facebook page identified him as the plane's pilot.

He was practicing when he had to jump from his plane, and he is now doing okay, a loved one explained on Facebook. "Thank God for our STRONG parachute!" the page administrator wrote.

"He was very upset, emotionally upset," Lt. Scott said of Marcotte. "But no real significant injuries. He was able to walk. He came back to the scene and talked to investigators."

Scott said the Federal Aviation Administration, out of Maine, will look into what went wrong.

Police and a towing service gathered as much of the wreckage as they could find.

Mike Cota of Cota's Towing said this wasn't the first response of its kind for him, though. "We have about one a year or so; somebody goes down up here," he said.

The Facebook page of Dan Marcotte AirShows was lighting up with well-wishes Friday afternoon, with folks very glad their friend lived through this, likely still with more thrill-seeking left in him.

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