Coulthard escapes plane death crash

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The Independent Online

A small jet carrying David Coulthard crashed at a French airport today, killing the pilot and co-pilot.

The Formula One driver and his fiancee, fashion model Heidi Winchelski, fled as the plane burned but escaped with minor injuries only.

"His state is not at all worrisome," said a spokesperson at Lyon's Edouard-Herriot Hospital. "He is undergoing exams to verify that all is well. He has no fractures."

The crash happened after the private Lear jet, which was flying from Britain to Nice in southern France, requested an emergency landing following engine trouble. The airport said the accident occurred at about 2.30 p.m. (1230 GMT).

Airport director Bernard Chaffange said: "The plane was on fire (on the runway). The hold part was totally destroyed but they could escape by the window. They managed to get out of the plane on their own immediately after the crash."

Coulthard, of Scotland, driving for McLaren Mercedes, won the British Grand Prix for the second consecutive time on April 23, putting him in second place overall.

The Formula One driver proposed to fashion model Heidi over the New Year although the couple said they had no plans to get married until the current season is over.

The McLaren Formula One team said Coulthard would be fit enough to take part in this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona.