HAYWARD A 74-year-old Livermore man was killed on Sunday when he was struck by the propeller of an aircraft that hours later crashed into a neighboring golf course, authorities said Monday.
Crew member David Herrington had just exited a banner-towing Cessna 210 at the Hayward Executive Airport when he was "clipped" by the plane's propeller, said Lt. Reid Lindblom, a spokesman with the Hayward Police Department.
Later that afternoon, the same plane crashed into a neighboring golf course in a bizarre series of events at the normally quiet municipal airport.
"We are all in shock," said Brent Shiner, manager of the city airport. "When you get a call about an incident and it was the same plane that we had just been out for, it was very disheartening.
"We haven't had very many incidents at all," Shiner continued. "We haven't had a fatality in I don't know how long."
Mike Fergus, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the accident that claimed Herrington's life occurred at the airport, at 20301 Skywest Drive.
Fergus said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Oakland Flight Standards District Office are investigating both incidents.
An NTSB representative said field investigators were expected to file a preliminary report within the next few days.
Less than 3 ½ hours after Herrington died from being struck by the propeller, the same Cessna 210 crashed shortly after takeoff onto a fairway at the adjacent Skywest Golf Course.
The pilot involved in both incidents has been identified as Robert Hughes Franklin, 58, of Castro Valley by the FAA.
Franklin owns Aerial Services, a banner-towing company based in Livermore.
Reached at his business on Monday, Franklin said he had known Herrington for about five years. He said he believed that Herrington walked into the propeller.
"It hasn't been a good couple of days," Franklin said. He declined to comment any further.
The Cessna 210 is registered to Team Builders Inc., a company headquartered in Henderson, Nevada, according to the FAA.
Fergus said any time a propeller strikes a foreign object, it can damage the crankshaft and cause a plane's engine to fail.
FAA protocol requires any aircraft that has been involved in a "propeller strike" to be inspected by a mechanic before taking to the air.
"We are in an investigative mode on that," Fergus said. "We don't know if that took place or not."
In the crash that was reported at 4:07 p.m., the Cessna 210 lost engine power after ascending about 200 feet into the air and plunged into the 18th hole of the Skywest Golf Course about a minute later.
Franklin escaped with no serious injury in the accident, but the aircraft sustained extensive damage, authorities said. No one at the golf course was injured.
Rick Silva, the manager of Skywest Golf Course, said the plane landed on the fairway of the 18th green and caused virtually no damage.
"We were very lucky and (the pilot) was very lucky," Silva said.
Pilot David Morris, who was re-fueling his aircraft just before the accident, said he was horrified as he watched the Cessna crash into the golf course.
"The engine failed and started popping," said Morris, who believed the craft was stuttering because of "fuel starvation."
"Then one of the engines completely quit," he added. "I saw him bank to the right. Then the next thing the fire trucks were coming."
After the accident, Morris circled the golf course in his airplane and was stunned when he realized that both wings of the Cessna 210 had been severed by trees.
"I don't think he was going that fast," he said. "I think that's what saved him. You hate to see this thing happen. If it was a mechanical problem, the poor guy couldn't do anything."
Ricci Graham can be reached at (510) 293-2469 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.