FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A former chief executive officer at a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. crash-landed a plane on a highway in front of an Arkansas high school Tuesday after the aircraft’s oil system failed.
Bill Simon, who led the company’s U.S. operations from 2010 to 2014, was flying from nearby Bentonville to Waco, where he teaches a business class each Tuesday at Baylor University.
Simon and two other men aboard the plane were taken to a hospital, as was a woman whose truck was hit by the plummeting plane. Fayetteville police described each injury as minor.
Simon said he unfurled the plane’s parachute after the oil system failed. He said he suffered an “air bag burn” as the device deployed and that he was grateful that all survived.
“You react with the training you’ve had and do the best you can, and pray a lot,” Simon said.
The plane fell in front of Fayetteville High School, which is adjacent to the University of Arkansas.
The highway, Arkansas 16, is also known as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and, at five lanes wide, is broad enough to accommodate a small plane if vehicle traffic is not present.
Baylor said that, in addition to teaching a business class, Simon is on the school’s board of regents.
“We think the world of Bill Simon and are grateful for his service to Baylor and the time he takes to share his business experience with our students,” Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said.