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80-year-old pilot shimmies 8 feet down a tree to escape crashed plane: Officials

The 80-year-old pilot walked away with minor injuries after the plane crashed near Camp Mattatuck, a local Boy Scout camp.

PLYMOUTH, Conn — A small plane crashed at a Boy Scout camp in Plymouth Tuesday afternoon, which led to the pilot climbing several feet down to get to the ground. The scale of the environmental damage is still unclear. 

Tuesday was the first day of summer camp at Camp Mattatuck. Just hours into camp, a small plane came crashing down and landed in the woods. The 80-year-old pilot shimmied eight feet down a tree and walked away with only minor injuries.

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"As difficult as it was to get to where he was it could have been a lot worse if he was farther in," said Ken LeClerc, Regional Supervisor of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Emergency Response Unit. 

State officials said around 1 p.m. a Nevada man took off in a small plane from nearby Waterbury Airport. 

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Just seconds later, he landed in the trees narrowly missing a ropes course at the local Boy Scout camp. 

"The plane was hung up in the trees and leaking fuel when it was found by the fire department. We used an excavator to cut enough trees to get to where the plane was. We were able to lower it to the ground and we were able to pump off the remaining fuel," said LeClerc. 

No campers or staffers were injured and the pilot got himself out of the plane. 

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The concern now is the possible environmental hazards the 25 gallons of leaked jet fuel will have on the area. Soil samples will need to be analyzed to ensure the area is clean and safe. 

"You always have to worry about it getting into the groundwater, especially this area. This whole camp is conserved by well water and there are several shallow wells in the immediate area," said LeClerc. "It's part of the FAA investigation as to what happened with the plane." 

Emergency crews will be back on the scene on Thursday to remove the plane and also take samples of the ground to make sure there are no environmental impacts.

Lindsey Kane is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at Lkane@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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