Harrison Ford is lucky to be alive after a dramatic plane crash in Los Angeles. The 72-year-old star of Indiana Jones and Star Wars was piloting his vintage WW2 aircraft when the engine failed, causing him to crash land on a nearby golf course.
The actor called in the emergency shortly after take-off from Santa Monica Airport, reporting he was having engine failure with his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR and was making an "immediate return". Air traffic control cleared him to land, however he was unable to reach the runway, landing instead on the Penmar Golf Course after clipping the top of a tree. The Han Solo actor, who was flying solo at the time, was the only casualty in the crash, sustaining moderate injuries. It is believed he suffered a pelvic fracture, ankle injuries, and multiple bruises and cuts.
Life imitates art
A group of golfers, including spinal surgeon Sanjay Khurana, pulled the actor from the plane's wreckage, fearing it was about to explode. “He was stunned a bit,” Khurana said. “He was moaning and in pain.” The doctor worked to stabilise the actor's spine and neck, checking his blood pressure and airway, all the while trying not to be star-struck.
“It was obvious by his face it was Harrison Ford. I’m old enough, or young enough, to have watched all his ‘Star Wars’ films," Khurana admitted after the accident. “You don't go golfing expecting to see an airplane crash and to help extract someone and realise it's someone you know from the movies, right? It's fairly bizarre,” he said. “But as a surgeon, I've been practicing for almost over a decade now, you deal with urgent situations. So you have to do your best for someone in distress.”
The Blade Runner star was breathing and alert when paramedics arrived and took him to hospital in a "fair to moderate" condition, a fire department spokesman said. Harrison Ford's son Ben, a chef in Los Angeles, later tweeted from the hospital: "Dad is OK. Battered but OK! He is every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man."
Ford's publicist said: "The injuries sustained are not life threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery."
Following the crash, National Transportation Safety Board investigators were on the scene investigating its cause. "This pilot is an experienced pilot," NTSB investigator Patrick Jones said. "The pilot reported a loss of engine power and was attempting to return to the runway. It appears he clipped the top of a tree and came to rest on the golf course."
Ford's wife of five years, Calista Flockhart, is said to be devastated by the crash. Keeping vigil by The Fugitive star's bedside, she is reportedly hoping her husband won't take to the skies again. The former Ally McBeal star was seen at the hospital looking tired and emotionally drained.
She is hoping her husband will now 'take it easy'. The actress has reason to worry about her husband's health. Ford, who was reprising his role in Star Wars, broke his leg less than a year ago while filming Episode VII. He underwent surgery and was in rehab for months following the break. It is not yet clear how long it will take for him to recover from the injuries sustained in his plane crash.
The curse of Star Wars
Ford's co-star in the Star Wars films, Carrie Fisher, was in a car crash only four days before Ford's plane went down. "It was raining hard in LA. I was driving to the art store and I got into an accident. It wasn’t that serious and I wasn’t hurt but it’s the first car accident I’ve ever had. I drove home and that’s when the wheel came off my BMW. My assistant told me I could have died if the wheel had come off when I was on the freeway."
The Princess Leia actress now has fears for her other co-stars, blaming Ford's crash on a curse. "Things happen in threes," she said. "I’m about to call Mark Hamill [who plays Luke Skywalker] to make sure he’s OK. I have a horrid feeling there’s a curse going on here."