Ray Charles Escapes Injury as His Airplane Crashes
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ Singer Ray Charles escaped injury Saturday when his airplane ran off a runway while landing in heavy rain and slid into a cornfield, injuring the pilot, officials said.
The four-engine Viscount, a propellor plane, was carrying 28 people, including Charles, his musicians and crew members, when it slid off the runway at Monroe County Airport and down a hill, said state Trooper Omar Davis.
The aircraft’s wheels apparently lost contact with the runway as the plane skimmed along atop water accumulated on the runway, said State Police Sgt. Tom Cox.
″It was raining very, very hard at the time of the crash. That could be one of the primary causes of the accident,″ Cox said.
Twenty-six people, including Charles, were taken to Bloomington Hosptial for observation, and 25 were released, said hospital spokeswoman Sandy Fiscus.
The pilot was admitted in satisfactory condition with a back injury, Ms. Fiscus said.
Charles, 55, was released from the hospital less than two hours after the 3:35 p.m. crash and taken to a hotel, said Davis.
″I was playing a game of chess at the time,″ said Charles. ″So, I was making a move and the next thing I know we were over in a field.″
He said he left the hospital because ″it’s only one hospital here and I didn’t feel that they should have the doctor wasting his precious time with me when there were people who really needed his attention.″
″Thank God I’m okay. Or at least I think I’m okay,″ said Charles. ″You know I feel I’m okay now, but certainly by morning I’ll know for sure.″
Charles’ scheduled Saturday night performance at the Indiana University auditorium was postponed due to the crash and because some of the musicians’ equipment had been damaged, university officials said.
The plane was coming from Los Angeles, said Cox.