TEMPE, Ariz. — While reliever Sean Burnett continued his rehabilitation from elbow surgery in the Angels’ spring-training camp, his wife and two kids were dealing with a tragedy back home in Wellington, Fla.
The Burnetts' neighbor across the street, Leonard McGarity, a former Marine helicopter pilot and commercial pilot for American Airlines, was killed Monday when his home-built aircraft crashed into a lake within a few thousand feet of the runway he was attempting to land on, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported.
Burnett’s home is in a private aviation community that has its own runway, and Miami Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia also is one of his neighbors.
“I knew him pretty well,” Burnett said of McGarity. “I’d see him walking the dog a few times a day, say hello when he was getting his mail. I’m sad for his family. He was one of the most experienced pilots in the neighborhood.”
Saltalamacchia told the Sun-Sentinel that he returned home Monday shortly after the 1 p.m. EST crash to the jarring sight of emergency personnel covering McGarity’s body. He texted a picture of the crash site to Burnett.
“It’s a risk you take, I guess,” Burnett said. “It’s a really cool neighborhood with interesting, friendly people and retired pilots who have a passion for flying. It was a beautiful day [Monday], so everyone was out flying.”
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