'It was like a ball of fire': Woman possibly witnesses fatal plane crash

'It was like a ball of fire': Woman possibly witnesses fatal plane crash
Woman said she saw ball of fire in the sky Wednesday
St. Clair Sheriff's Office confirmed finding the downed aircraft in the 35000 block of US Highway 411 North. (Source: WBRC)
St. Clair Sheriff's Office confirmed finding the downed aircraft in the 35000 block of US Highway 411 North. (Source: WBRC)
Kay Garrett (Source: WBRC)
Kay Garrett (Source: WBRC)

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - We're learning more about the fatal plane crash in Saint Clair County. The pilot, now identified as Bret James Leistyna, 52, died in that crash. One woman said she may have seen the plane before it went down.

Kay Garrett is still not exactly sure what she saw Wednesday morning.

"Nothing like that," she said. "It just looked weird and odd."

She lives on Straight Mountain on the St. Clair County and Blount County line.

She said when she went outside that morning, she saw what looked like a ball of fire.

"It started falling and it went a third of his house down, and it blocked my view," said Garrett.

News broke Friday that about 20 minutes away from Garrett's home, the St. Clair County Sheriff's Office found the wreckage of a plane just north of Ashville.

NTSB investigators said the plane, a Cessna 182, crashed shortly after taking off from Gadsden's North Alabama Regional Airport Wednesday, killing the pilot Leistyna from Los Angeles.

Chief of Media Relations NTSB Chris O'Neil said, "Our investigator intends to remain on scene through the remainder of the day. The aircraft is scheduled to be recovered on Monday."

Garrett only learned of the plane crash Saturday morning.

"I wish I called sooner, 911 or the Sheriff's Department," she said.

And while Garrett is not 100 percent positive what she saw was in fact the plane, NTSB investigators are eager to hear from her and any others who may have seen something.

"Certainly, if anybody in the area saw something, heard something, has a photo, has video, or thinks they have information relevant to the investigation, we would certainly love to hear from them," said O'Neil.

The NTSB said they will publish a preliminary report within the next two or three weeks with a summary of facts they've been able to get up until that point.

A fatal crash investigaiton could take 12 to 24 months.

If you did see or hear anything, you can email them at witness@ntsb.org.

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