UPDATE: One plane crash survivor released from hospital, second undergoing surgery

UPDATE: One plane crash survivor released from hospital, second undergoing surgery

SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - One of the men who survived a Fourth of July plane crash on Lake Palestine has been released from the hospital, while the other is undergoing surgery, according to an ETMC spokesperson.

As of 10 p.m. Friday, Aaron Buster, 25, of Greenville, had been released from the Tyler hospital. His father and pilot, Gary Buster, 56, of Frankston, was undergoing surgery and was listed in fair condition.

The father-son duo were injured when the small, multi-engine Zenith Zodiak CH-601 they were flying in apparently lost power while they were attempting to land at Aero Estates Airpark in Berryville around 2 p.m. Friday -- sending it crashing into the water.

"I heard him say he was landing here, and that's the last that we heard him on the radio. We didn't hear him anymore after that," Gayla Leary said.

Leary and Gary Buster are both members of the Longview chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). She says he and his son were on their way back from a fly-in at Mineola-Wisener Field Airport when word started spreading that a plane had crashed into the lake.

"That's when I said, 'Go check on Gary,' because I never saw him land," she said.

Capt. Game Warden Quint Balkcom with Texas Parks and Wildlife says the quick thinking of some nearby boaters may have saved their lives.

"They saw the plane go down, and they were able to get to the two occupants of the plane and provide them a rescue, get them to the shore and of course EMS was able to treat them, so probably very much the key to survival in this instance," he said.

On Gary Buster's YouTube channel, you can find several videos of him landing planes at the same airport he was attempting to land at when the crash happened.

"Gary is a very excellent pilot. He's been flying for a long time," Leary said.

Investigators still don't know exactly what happened, but on one of the deadliest holidays of the year, they say they're just glad no one was killed.

"We did not lose anybody today, which is a blessing," Balkcom said.

DPS Trooper Jean Dark says investigators were able to locate the plane at the bottom of the lake using side-scan sonar, but it will be the owner's responsibility to pull it from the water.

DPS, the FAA and Texas Parks and Wildlife are investigating.


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