Retired Army Captain Killed In Fiery Crash Saturday

By: Paul J. Gately Email
By: Paul J. Gately Email

GATESVILLE (February 27, 2010)—The 66-year-old pilot of a single-engine aircraft was killed just after 9 a.m. Saturday when his plane slammed into a field and exploded into flames.

Authorities identified the pilot as retired Army Captain James Elbert Price, Jr. of Copperas Cove.

Gatesville fire and emergency medical service units were dispatched at 9:05 a.m. to an address on County Road 132 about 7.5 miles southwest of Gatesville where a resident reported having seen the airplane go down.

Geri Herrington and her husband live at a house on the property where the plane crashed.

She told News 10 she heard the airplane fly over her house at a very low altitude and watched as it looped and rolled in the sky.

She said she went inside with her daughter and three grandchildren to call the local airport to report the pilot, but before she could make the phone call her husband yelled at here to call 911 because the plane had gone down some 1000 yards south of the home.

Another witness told News 10 he thought the pilot experienced some kind of trouble with the airplane because he watched as the plane banked sharply left and descended rapidly, then hit the ground.

The second witness said the plane had lost all power before it hit the ground.

The crashing aircraft left a debris field about 75 yards in length, crossed a small ravine and buried itself in a thick cedar break.

Justice of the Peace Jimmy Wood said the pilot was likely killed on impact.

Firefighters doused burning cedar and brush around the crash site but some hot spots were smoldering as much as half-an-hour later.

After the fires were under control, firefighters used chain saws to begin clearing the thick cedar brush so the pilot’s body could be recovered.

Wood said paperwork recovered from the aircraft indicated the pilot took off Saturday morning from the airport at Lampasas and was likely bound for San Angelo.

The plane was a Piper Cherokee PA-28-140 that was manufactured in 1966, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

It’s a less expensive model of the same family of Piper aircraft as the small plane that Andrew Joseph Stack flew into the side of the seven-story Echelon building last week.

Texas Department of Public Safety trooper David Poston is investigating the crash.

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  • by EJ Location: Cove on Jun 11, 2010 at 04:36 PM
    Leave the man and his family alone. They dont need your "expert" unsubstantiated opinions. To the family: Sorry for your loss.
  • by Corlis Location: Michigan on Mar 7, 2010 at 12:08 PM
    I'm not sure what happened with the plane. But what I do know is Jim was a caring person. I met him through my sister Dee. She would often talk about her & Jim attending church together. My brother (Craig) was extremely ill in the hospital and I flew in from Michigan. Although Jim had never laid eyes on me, he was there to pick me up and drive me to the hospital so I could take care of my brother. During the entire trip, he was careful not to go over the speed limit and engaged me in conversation to ease my mind. When it was time for me to return to Michigan, Jim was a phone call away! My condolences to his family and friends. You'll remain in my prayers.
  • by Knowledgeable Location: Missouri on Mar 6, 2010 at 10:54 PM
    The FAA has not made a ruling until they do, there is no telling what may have happened. That being said... Johnny not to pick on you but you and two other "witnesses" are the only people making accusations of acrobatics. Your testimonies have been proven false in many ways, please do the honorable thing and as one person put it "shut your pie hole." Also, if there are posts from six different witnesses and only three of the six are saying "controlled maneuvers" and "the engine never stopped" and the others are saying the opposite it makes those of us who did not see the crash wonder if you are not simply looking for your 15 minutes. To the family and friends of the pilot.... God bless this man and cradle him forever.
  • by Melody Location: Copperas Cove on Mar 6, 2010 at 05:28 PM
    I didn't know Jim very long, but even in the short time found that he was very caring and accepting of anyone he felt deserved it. I am actually renting a property of his and he would not let me move in until he thought it was perfect. He would come down to the house and while working we would talk for long periods of time.( not a whole lot of work got I heard so many stories of his family and of his life in general. I can tell you that he loved his wife and his family(all his dogs too) and friends he held just as dear. He was loved and will be missed by everyone who life he blessed.
  • by Brian Location: Iraq on Mar 3, 2010 at 01:10 PM
    Jim will be missed by my family and me. He was an honest caring nieghbor that was always there for my family during times of need. I am deeply saddened that he is no longer with us and that I cannot be there to attend his memorial. My sympathy and prayers go out to his family. We will all miss Jim.
  • by Witness Location: Gatesville on Mar 2, 2010 at 04:08 PM
    I saw the incident. I watched him for a few minutes. The whole time the engine was wound out and it looked like he was having problems. He kept rolling back and forth, went up, turned and then dove toward the ground. It quit making noise before I heard the plane hit the ground and then explode. Why would he do that? He was either having problems with the plane or he was having a medical problem. It did not look like he was playing around. An experienced pilot would not be playing around that close to the ground. I don't understand why anybody would be making negative comments about this man. He fought for our country. Why would he endanger our lives by doing something like this. I am sorry for the family that they lost a loved one in such a way.
  • by Tammy Location: Temple on Mar 2, 2010 at 01:44 PM
    Peggy, please email me at I also faxed my contact info to Jim's house.
  • by Tammy Location: Temple on Mar 1, 2010 at 10:17 PM
    I think all of the bickering on this site is disgusting and anyone who knew Jim knows this was not like him to fly this way. This man was a veteran that served his country, loved his family, friends and God. Those of us that know him know that there had to be a reason he was flying in that manner. I will miss him for the rest of my life, he was a cherished family friend as well as his much missed wife Donna, for many years. Shame on you people to jump to conclusions. Peggy, I wish I could get ahold of you to find out the arrangements, I will be at the service and look you up. God bless Jim, he was one of a kind and I loved him dearly.
  • by PEGGY Location: LAMPASAS on Mar 1, 2010 at 07:10 PM
    This is a true tragedy, My father was a great pilot and a safe and caring man. Whatever you think you saw it doesn't matter, it was a great loss and a tragic end to a wonderful life. If it was an heartattck or some other health reason does making these slandering comments make you feel better. He is a true hero because he missed everyones house and saved numerous lives. How dare you accuse anyone of anything else, unless you are a pilot. You don't have a clue. Thank God he was such a good pilot no others lives were lost except his. He paid the ultimate price his life Thank you for the words of comfort. I am his oldest daughter Peggy in Lampasas
  • by Gail Location: Copperas Cove on Mar 1, 2010 at 06:49 PM
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Jim Price's family. He was wonderful man, and a great neighbor, he would help anyone that he could. He will be dearly missed.
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