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Small plane strikes man on mower at Taylorsville Airport

A plane landing at the Taylorsville Airport Saturday morning hit and seriously injured a man who was mowing the grass landing strip, authorities said.

The accident severed 74-year-old John Rufty’s left hand, said Sgt. Brian Owenby of the N.C. State Highway Patrol, who said the pilot of the single-engine plane was not hurt.

The victim was taken by helicopter to Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, according to Russell Greene, director of Alexander County Emergency Services.

The pilot was taxiing eastbound, said Owenby; Rufty was mowing in the same direction, with his back to the plane. The pilot had circled the airport before coming in, but didn’t see the mower until the last second, Owenby said, and the impact flipped the plane over onto its top. Greene said the mower also flipped over.

Greene said the pilot was from Tennessee. The pilot has not been identified yet by authorities.

Greene said the National Transportation Safety Board had been notified about the accident.

Helen Schwab contributed to this report.

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