Plane makes emergency landing on I-5

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- Authorities say a small plane ended up in the middle of Interstate 5 around milepost 131 north of Roseburg on Wednesday afternoon.

Officials say the plane had to make an emergency landing after it reportedly lost power just before 2:00 pm.

The small plane was occupied by two people, according to Oregon State Police.

FAA records show the plane is a Cessna 177RG built in 1976. The registered owner is Marc Girardet, 38, of Tenmile, Oregon, who was flying the plane.

The plane ended up in the median and no lanes were blocked, although state police say there may be delays.

Neither man was injured.

Girardet said that his passenger, Doug Denham, 56, of Portland, helped him land the plane by looking for a break in traffic. "The traffic initially was pretty bad," said Girardet. "It was pretty heavy. My friend was able to spot the traffic for me. I asked him to look for a break in the traffic flow so we could put it (plane) down in a clear spot on the freeway. We were able to."

Girardet says he and Denham were on their way to Portland for an appointment, when they lost power.

When he turned the plane around over the Rice Hill area to try and land at the Roseburg Airport, they realized it wasn't going to happen. "Initially I calculated we may have been able to make it all the way to Roseburg, but we just lost too much altitude, too quickly."

Girardet says the plane has never given him any problems. "It's been flawless," he said. "It's never had any issues other than routine maintenance, so this was totally unexpected."

Denham says that at first, he thought the pilot was messing with him. "I thought he was goofing around to tease me. Once we turned around, it was sort of, emergency mode," he said.

"I was in communication with air traffic control in Eugene," said Girardet. "I informed them we had an emergency descent, we had a power loss. We were going to attempt to return to the Roseburg airport, but we couldn't make it that far."

The plane landed on the freeway and the motor quit completely.

Luckily, Girardet says they had enough momentum to get off the freeway. and steered into the center median. "This was our own momentum that carried us here, this is where I stopped," Girardet said.

"Once we touched down, the motor ran for another ten, fifteen seconds," Denham said. "Then, it just quit running."

Denham adds that it was a pretty scary experience. "It was spooky, you always wonder when you're in a small aircraft, especially one with only one motor," he said. "That's the spooky part."

It is not known how long it will take to get the plane removed, as it needs to be prepped to be hauled on a trailer.

Authorities are asking people to try not to be distracted by the unusual sight of an airplane parked in the center median.

Oregon State Police, the Douglas County Sheriff's office, Sutherlin police, ODOT and EMS crews all responded to the scene.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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