2 Die on Plane Carrying Coulthard
LYON, France (AP) _ A small plane carrying Formula One driver David Coulthard crashed at Lyon’s airport Tuesday, killing the pilot and co-pilot but leaving the star driver with only minor injuries.
The 29-year-old Scotsman was taken to Lyon’s Edouard-Herriot hospital after the crash. He was released and returned to his home in Monaco.
Coulthard’s fiancee, model Heidi Wichlinski, and trainer, Andrew Matthews, sustained minor injuries in the crash and were discharged from the hospital.
The McLaren Formula One team said Coulthard was expected to race this weekend in the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona.
``Obviously, I am relieved that Heidi, Andrew and myself are unhurt, but I want to express my deepest sympathy with the families of the two pilots. It’s inappropriate for me to go into details of the accident, but I am extremely lucky to walk away,″ Coulthard said in a statement released by McLaren.
Coulthard’s chartered Lear jet was flying from Farnborough airport in Britain to Nice when it requested an emergency landing at Lyon airport following engine trouble.
But on landing in the early afternoon, the nose hit the ground and the plane burst into flames.
``On landing, the left wing hit the runway, the nose hit the ground, the plane left the runway and burst into flames,″ airport director Claude Chapange said.
The pilot and co-pilot died instantly.
French television showed pictures of the plane. The front was destroyed but the fuselage seemed intact.
Coulthard, who is Scottish, called his manager Ian Cunningham to say he escaped serious injury.
He won his second straight British Grand Prix on April 23. He is second in the drivers’ standings with 14 points, trailing Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher, who has 34 points.
Coulthard began his Formula One career in 1994 with Williams and moved to McLaren in 1996.