A small private plane crashed off of Interstate 10 eastbound near Bluff Road and Highland Road on Wednesday morning, resulting in minor injuries for the pilot, authorities said. 

State Police responded to the crash and posted to Twitter that the private plane landed on the interstate near the line between East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes.

Injuries to the pilot, the only person on board, were minor.


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The pilot, James Ritter, said on the scene that he picked the four-seat plane up at the Baton Rouge Airport around 9:30 a.m. and was heading back to Louisiana Regional Airport. Halfway through the trip, the engine started shuddering and locked up.

"I picked the interstate to land on and as I was coming down for the landing, I think I skimmed across an 18-wheeler, which threw me over to the side," Ritter said. "It was either trees or interstate, and that looked like a pretty good runway. … Thank the Lord that I'm walking away."

When asked if it was a crash or a landing, Ritter said: "I definitely call it a crash in my book."

The air traffic recording for the crash includes exchanges between Ritter and air traffic controllers in which Ritter warns them of his plans to land on the interstate. They respond that emergency crews have already been alerted. And several seconds later they observe the plane has come to rest on the side of the interstate and "hit pretty hard" but appears "right side up."

St. George Fire Department spokesman Eldon Ledoux said the crash landing occurred after the plane lost oil pressure. He said the truck that was hit during the landing had left the scene. 

State Police said the plane would remain in place overnight Wednesday while Federal Aviation Administration officials complete their investigation. Authorities have asked drivers to avoid the area if possible because of traffic delays.


Follow Lea Skene on Twitter, @lea_skene.