Pilot Remembered as 'Outstanding Individual' After He Died in Georgia Neighborhood Plane Crash

Jason McKenzie was the only person on board and there were no other injuries on the ground

<p>Jason McKenzie/Facebook</p> Jason McKenzie poses for a photo for Facebook

Jason McKenzie/Facebook

Jason McKenzie poses for a photo for Facebook

Jason McKenzie, a pilot and associate director of philanthropy at Augusta University, is being remembered as an "outstanding individual" after he died in a Georgia neighborhood plane crash, his employer, church and friends confirmed to local outlets.

The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza A36 that McKenzie was flying crashed along Hillcrest Avenue in Augusta on Thursday, May 2, ABC affiliate WRDW reported. The outlet added that he was the only person on board and that "there were no other injuries" on the ground.

“I think that was a miracle,” a neighbor, Lisa Lewis, told WRDW. “I’m just thankful no one else on the ground was hurt.”

Lewis, who lives on Hillcrest Avenue, described the plane as "way louder than normal, and it got louder and louder and it just sounded like it was right outside the window." After hearing a "loud banging pop sound," she told the outlet that her electricity went out.

Then, locals spotted the scene of the crash where the flames "were so tall," Lewis recalled, adding, "It could have been so much worse."

According to WRDW, the plane took off from Daniel Field Airport in Augusta and was headed for New Haven, Conn. The aircraft only reached an altitude of 625 feet before crashing. Four minutes after takeoff, it clipped a tree and came down between two homes.

Related: Neighbors Help Pilot After Hearing 'Loud Boom' from Small Plane Crash on California Street

First responders are calling McKenzie a hero, per CBS affiliate WAFB, while Augusta Fire Chief Antonio Burden told WRDW that he "can only credit the pilot for that situation — for not involving another structure."

Dean Newman, a good friend of the pilot who played golf with him and his son, told ABC affiliate WJBF that the "community has really lost an outstanding individual in Jason McKenzie, and he is going to be greatly missed."

According to CBS affiliate WIAT, the Federal Aviation Administration shared that McKenzie had 800 hours of flying time last year, and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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In a statement shared on Facebook by Will Dyer, a pastor for First Baptist Church of Augusta, he said McKenzie was a "devoted husband, father, and son" who "loved his community, his work, and his church."

"Jason McKenzie was my friend," Dyer continued. "We spoke on the phone almost every week and I never left a phone call with Jason where I didn’t have a smile on my face. My life is better because Jason played a role in it."

McKenzie is survived by his wife, Stephanie, his son, Patrick, and his mother, Becky, the church confirmed to WIAT.

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