Two hurt in accident at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

Propeller strikes student in head, another’s hand

File photo special to the Tribune Chronicle This file photo provided by the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics shows one of the hangars at the PIA’s Youngstown campus at the Youngstown Warren Regional Airport in Vienna. Two students were injured there Wednesday, one critically, according to Vienna police.

VIENNA — Township police are leading the investigation into an accident that sent two students at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital to be treated for head and hand wounds.

One of the victims is in critical condition after an airplane propeller cracked open his skull. He was having surgery Wednesday evening, according to a source who did not want to be named.

The students were working in a hangar at PIA’s Youngstown campus at the Youngstown Warren Regional Airport when a prop plane engine began operating, hitting one of the students in the face and a second student in the hand.

An unidentified woman called Trumbull County 911 just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, asking for help to be sent to PIA Youngstown.

“An engine went off in the hangar and striked someone in the face with a propeller,” the woman told the 911 dispatcher.

When asked if the person was still alive, the caller responded: “I do not know. He is just on the ground,” according to a 911 call report.

The dispatcher, said: “We are getting them out there, OK.”

The Vienna Police Department has not released the names of the students involved in the accident, but said they are both in their 20s.

According to a Trumbull County 911 call summary, the accident occurred at the hangar 3 entrance where the Cafaro Hangar is located.

The man with the most severe injury had labored breathing and his bleeding was seen as increasingly growing worse, the report states. Portions of his brain was exposed, the report states.

Dispatchers also expressed concern about the seriousness of the second victim’s arm injury.

Several investigative agencies were notified about the accident, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. None went to the airport.

“We investigate workplace accidents,” Scott Allen, a spokesman with OSHA said. “As I understand it, this was at a school, not in a workplace.”

The Trumbull County Coroner’s office also was contacted, but did not go to the airport because the students were sent to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital for treatment, which is the jurisdiction of the Mahoning County coroner.

Joe DeRamo, campus director of PIA, said the school would not comment until it gathered more information.

Vienna police Lt. Brian Darbey described what happened at the school “…an unfortunate accident.”

John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority, expressed sorrow and concern for both of the men involved in the accident.

“This was a terrible thing to have occurred,” Moliterno said.

However, he added, PIA has had a very good safety record in Youngstown and at their other facilities.

“The company has been at the Youngstown Warren Regional Airport since 2006, and we’ve not had a problem,” Moliterno said.

PIA purchased its hangar two to three years ago and put in $1 million worth of investment in a new building and improving the hangar, Moliterno said.

“This school has seen a 50 percent growth in the last two to three years,” he continued.

Students are trained to assemble and disassemble engines on stands, but they do not start them inside the hangar, Moliterno said.