Brownwood Fire Chief Del Albright said he saw the small plane piloted by a firefighter make three passes over the crowd at a fireworks show Saturday night in Coleman County, then saw the plane going straight down.
Albright said he did not see the small single-engine plane hit the ground, but heard the impact that killed firefighter B.J. Carnes, 38.
“It hit everybody hard in the fire department,” Albright said. “He was a really close friend to all of us. He was a good firefighter. He’s going to be missed.”
The cause of the crash has not been determined, officials said Sunday.
The crash happened at 8 p.m. on the T-Bone Ranch near Valera, where a crowd had gathered to watch a fireworks show, Coleman Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Walker said Saturday night.
Walker, relying on what someone had told him, said Carnes was performing aerobatics. Albright said Carnes had been asked to do a “flyover” and said he didn’t see Carnes perform any aerobatic maneuvers.
“I don’t know if he was going to do aerobatics. Flyovers don’t usually involve aerobatics,” Albright said.
Albright said he saw Carnes’ plane flying normally after its third pass over the crowd, then looked away momentarily. When he looked back, Carnes’ plane was headed down, Albright said.
“I saw the nose fall straight down,” he said.
Albright said the plane had been flying “fairly low, but not extremely low.”
He said Carnes’ death has hit the fire department hard. “He was a really close friend to all of us,” Albright said.
He said Carnes had been with the fire department for about 3 1/2 years and was the department’s current firefighter of the year.
He described Carnes was a as “well respected, extremely friendly, dedicated, caring for his co-workers, enthusiastic and happy.
“It seemed like he knew everybody,” Albright said.
His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church.