Jackson Memorial Hospital

Pompano Beach Honors Heroes Who Aided Plane Crash Survivors

The City of Pompano Beach rewarded bravery Tuesday evening. Three locals were honored for jumping into action two weeks ago to help save plane crash survivors from a growing fire.

People are taught to run from fire, especially one ignited by a small plane crash in the middle of a quiet neighborhood. But three brave people were honored for running toward flames to save lives.

"Me and one of my neighbors ran across the street, opened the gate and saw the plane burning inside. We made sure no one was inside, the pilot and copilot, we helped them to the street and went back with garden hoses to try and put the fire out," said Larry Ferris, honored for aiding crash survivors.

Ferris, Cynthia Kopenski and her father, Robbie Burning, went into danger to help the pilot and two student passengers in the single-engine Beechcraft 76.

On April 25, the aircraft fell out of the sky while practicing touch-and-go's from nearby Pompano Beach Airpark.

"You put that aside and do what you have to do in the moment. We happened to be there at the time of the crash and assisted as best we could until help arrived," Kopenski said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the plane to clip one home and skid 150-feet into the next backyard. Miraculously, no one was hurt on the ground.

Those aboard were badly burned. One of the students, Sylvia Mena, remains in good condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

"I've had a couple nightmares about it. Hoping and praying that everything comes out good and they get over this thing and it doesn't happen again," Burning expressed.

The fire chief described the three heroes as compassionate and humble, saying they didn't want to be in the spotlight, but he insisted on celebrating their selflessness.

"Listen, your actions were truly heroic, don't minimize it. We want to recognize you for that and we want people to understand, it's okay to get involved," Pompano Beach Fire Chief John Jurgle said.

The home clipped by the plane was recently gutted and the city said a structural engineer will assess the home to determine whether it's fit to be rebuilt.

Contact Us