Tylerite killed in Amarillo plane crash

Published on Thursday, 25 July 2013 17:11 - Written by By Kenneth Dean, kdean@tylerpaper.com

A Tyler man known as a successful businessman was killed Thursday when his plane crashed in an Amarillo neighborhood. 

Melanie Hooley McDade said her uncle, 53-year-old Ben Harned IV, a 1978 John Tyler High School graduate and 1980 Tyler Junior College graduate, died in the crash.

"The family is just in shock right now," Mrs. McDade said, crying.

According to an Associated Press story, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said the accident happened Thursday morning when the pilot attempted takeoff from a small airport in Amarillo.

Weiss said the pilot reported the left engine of a Piper PA-30 wasn't working properly. Authorities said the plane crashed in a yard by a mobile home.

The Amarillo Globe reported that Ismael Garcia, 33, was in the bathroom of his home at 2104 S. Mirror St. when he heard a big crash. His house filled with smoke, and he ran outside and saw the airplane on the ground. An unconscious, bloodied man was trapped in the back of the plane, he said.

Garcia dialed 911 and yelled at the man to try and get his attention, but the man didn’t respond, he said.

An emergency operator asked Garcia whether he smelled fuel. Garcia told the operator he smelled fuel and then left the area.

Bell Helicopter worker Paul Brown said he saw the plane fly in low, start to stall, roll and crash. The plane, he said, appeared to be turning back toward nearby Tradewinds Airport.

Mrs. McDade said her uncle, who was more like her brother, moved back to Tyler several years ago and got married last autumn. 

"He had a business in Amarillo and went back and forth, but I don't know how often he made the trip," she said.

Harned was listed as the owner of Performance Motors of Amarillo.

Mrs. McDade said Harned's grandmother once ran the Tyler Woman's Building and many people in Tyler knew him from working in the building with his grandmother. 

Tyler Morning Telegraph Sports Editor Phil Hicks said Harned was successful businessman whom he graduated high school with in 1978.

"We are having our 35th reunion next week. He was a wonderful guy who was always pleasant to be around," he said.