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Man Who Taped Plane Crash ‘Lucky To Be Alive’

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MONROE (WWJ/AP) - A man who recorded video as a small plane piloted by his grandfather crashed while trying to land in Monroe County says he’s “lucky to be alive.”

Twenty-year-old Ian Zawacki of Monroe set out with his 84-year-old grandfather, Wilbert Matthes of Ida, for a plane ride at dusk Sunday.

Matthes was piloting his single-engine aircraft and was about to approach a private grass landing strip in Rasinville Township off Saum Road, near Strasburg and Dunbar roads, when something when horribly wrong.

Zawacki, the co-pilot, told police he started taking video with his cell phone when the plane’s landing gear caught a power line about 27-feet off the ground. The aircraft then crashed into a corn field.

Les Grodi, who witnessed the accident and owns the airstrip, said the plane was coming in at about 50 mph when it crashed.

“Everything was perfect but they were 10 feet too low,” Grodi told The Monroe Evening News. “The wing hit first. If it came down nose-first it would have been much worse.”

Grodi said Matthes has landed at that strip 40 to 50 times over the years.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department said Matthes was hospitalized with a possible broken sternum.

Zawacki climbed out of the plane before helping his grandfather from the wreckage. “God was looking over me and my grandpa,” he told the newspaper.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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