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Realtor-pilot suffers stroke, lands plane safely at Hernando airport

BROOKSVILLE — A longtime Hernando Beach Realtor was clinging to life Tuesday, a day after suffering a massive stroke while flying a small airplane near the Hernando County Airport.

David Sturgill, 61, was flying an ultralight aircraft about 2:30 p.m. Monday when he became seriously ill, said Frank DeFrancesco, assistant chief for Hernando County Fire Rescue.

Sturgill was able to land the plane safely on the runway of the airport, slowly guiding the aircraft to the gate near the on-site fire station. When firefighters rushed to meet the plane, Sturgill was clearly in need of medical assistance, authorities said.

"He was half out of it," said Don Silvernell, director of the airport. "He was in very rough shape. But he made a successful landing."

Given Sturgill's condition, DeFrancesco said, the landing couldn't have gone any better. Sturgill wasn't injured in the landing, and there was no damage to the plane.

"We're very lucky that the (landing) didn't end badly," DeFrancesco said. "He was experiencing a very severe stroke."

Sturgill was then taken to Spring Hill Regional Hospital.

In an e-mail sent Tuesday to members of the Hernando County Association of Realtors, Marilyn Pearson-Adams, president of the association, said Sturgill remained in intensive care.

"It is with great sadness that we share this news with you all," Pearson-Adams said. "Please keep David, his Mother Miss Wilma, and his family in your thoughts and prayers."

Sturgill lived in a home at Hernando Beach with his elderly mother, according to friends.

For more than two decades in Hernando, during the rapid development of Spring Hill, Sturgill worked in real estate, and in later years got into building.

He also had a number of personal interests away from his business, including singing, sailing and traveling across the country in his RV.

"He's a very active man," said Vladimir Hucko, a close friend and former co-worker at Century 21 in Spring Hill. "This is very unpleasant news. It's a pity. Lots of people are concerned."

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Realtor-pilot suffers stroke, lands plane safely at Hernando airport 01/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 6:45pm]
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