Neighbors calling Greenwood pilot hero for avoiding homes

(WISH Photo/Nina Criscuolo)

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) – Neighbors in Greenwood where a plane crashed on Friday are saying the pilot is a hero for saving their lives by avoiding crashing directly into their homes.

The plane went down at 29 Patterson Street, near Main Street, around 2:20 p.m. Friday.

The Stephens family said their home was grazed by the plane before it crash landed next door. Joe Stephens said the loss of the pilot is weighing heavily on his heart today.

“Yeah, it’s sad. When I heard he had a 12 and 14-year-old daughter, I have four daughters of my own so that was hard to take. I’m just now getting over the shock. You just don’t know what to think,” he said.

After the crash, the plane caught on fire and two men on the ground sprung into action. They pulled the co-pilot from the plane with the help of a first-responder. The co-pilot has been identified as Michael Joseph Elliot of Tarpon Springs, Florida. He was last listed in critical condition.

The flames were too heavy to rescue the pilot, 46-year-old William Michael Gilliland, of Greenwood. Gilliland was survived by his wife, Angela, and their two daughters.

Gilliland was the Vice President for Simon Property Group. Simon released the following statement on Saturday after learning about the crash:

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and mourn the loss of our friend and colleague Bill Gilliland. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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