New CEO of Ocala Health System killed in plane crash
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012 at 2:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 at 2:14 p.m.
OCALA — A small plane crashed midday Friday in an open field near the Ocala International Airport. The pilot — P. Allen Golson, the recently named CEO of Ocala Health System — was killed, and his wife was injured.
Golson, 55, was from Macon, Ga., where he had been CEO of Coliseum Health System for seven years.
Marion County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jenifer Lowe said Carol Golson, also 55, was taken to West Marion Community Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. The hospital is part of Ocala Health System.
The Golsons were the only people aboard the twin-engine Cessna 340.
The website www.flightaware.com indicates the plane left the Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon at 10:30 a.m. Friday for a flight expected to last one hour and 10 minutes, with a destination of Ocala International Airport.
The plane crashed in a field south of Southwest 38th Street, which is just south of the airport.
Lowe said Golson's last contact with the airport tower was at 12:26 p.m. There was no indication of distress.
According to sheriff's officials, the plane was headed east and turning north to make its approach for landing "when something obviously went wrong."
Jo and Judy Ciufo, visiting from Canada, were driving on Southwest 38th Street, bound for Beall's on State Road 200. They saw a small passenger plane coming from the south that looked like it was about to cross 38th Street, heading toward the airport.
Then the pilot abruptly turned west and the plane plowed into the ground. Jo Ciufo said it looked like the pilot turned because he knew he was going down and didn't want to hit buildings.
"I never saw anything like this before," Judy Ciufo said.
Airport director Matthew Grow said it's premature to speculate on a cause of the crash. As of 3:42 p.m., the crash site had been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.
Ralph Hicks, a senior air safety investigator for the NTSB, said by phone late Friday that he was en route from Georgia to Ocala. Today he plans to document the wreckage, comb over all sections of the plane and determine the weather conditions at the time of the crash. He said he would be reaching out to air traffic controllers for their data and also interviewing witnesses.
He said the FAA was on site Friday; today, the agencies will compare notes.
Michael Osbourne, 28, of Beverly Hills, works at FirePrograms across from the crash site. He ran to the scene, was overcome by smoke, and then was taken to a local hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. Other rescuers also were evaluated for smoke inhalation.
Workers from OxyLife Respiratory Services LLC, 6405 SW 38th St., heard a loud "boom" and then grabbed all available fire extinguishers and ran to the burning plane.
The workers said they managed to get the woman out of the wreckage but couldn't get to the man because of the heavy smoke.
Some of the workers used the fire extinguishers to fight the blaze. Others began to pull luggage from the plane.
Ocala Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Brian Stoothoff said his agency received a call at 12:30 p.m. from the airport tower. He said personnel were on scene at 12:34 p.m. with the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting truck, which is specially equipped for such emergencies.
On scene were officials with Ocala Fire Rescue, the Ocala Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the Medical Examiner's Office. Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn was there, as well, conferring with police Chief Greg Graham.
According to the FAA website, the plane is registered to Flying G Aviation LLC in Wilmington, Del.
The Flight Aware website indicates that the plane, tail No. N340HF, flew on Jan. 19 from Macon to Ocala in a trip covering one hour and 11 minutes. It returned from Ocala to Macon on Jan. 21 in one hour and 14 minutes. It was not clear if Golson was the pilot on those flights.
"He's very well respected and has been flying for many, many years," said Henry Lowe, president of Lowe Aviation Co.
Golson's plane was based with the company, which operates at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.
"It's a real tragedy. He was a great guy," Lowe said.
Also saddened were Golson's colleagues at HCA.
"This is tragic news for our HCA family, and it will take time and the support of each other to deal with this loss," said Michael Joyce, president of HCA's North Florida Division, which includes Coliseum Health System.
"Allen was a true friend and a great leader who enjoyed life and dedicated himself to his work. He will be deeply missed," said Joyce, whose remarks were provided by Ocala Health.
Golson had more than 30 years of experience in public and private hospital administration. Before taking his post in Macon, he spent nine years as CEO of Palmyra Medical Centers in Albany, Ga.
Golson earned a bachelor's degree in health care management in 1981 from the University of Alabama and an MBA from the Southeastern Institute of Technology in Huntsville, Ala.
Ocala Health includes Ocala Regional Medical Center, West Marion Community Hospital, and outpatient facilities including Family Care Specialists and Advanced Imaging Centers.
Golson's appointment as new CEO was announced earlier this month. The leadership transition was set to be complete on Feb. 20.
Star-Banner correspondent Carlos Medina contributed to this report.
Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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