On January 1, 1997, about 1505 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-181, registered to Enterprise Seven Leasing Inc., operated as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, experienced a total loss of engine power while on an instrument approach to Florence Regional Airport, Florence, South Carolina, and crashed into a residential area. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan was filed. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot/pilot-in-command (PIC), and a private pilot occupying the left front seat reported serious injuries. One passenger sustained serious injuries, and the other passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight originated from Miami, Florida, about 4 hours 22 minutes before the accident.

The PIC stated he filed an IFR flight plan listing himself as the PIC. They departed Miami en route to Savannah, Georgia, with the private pilot flying the airplane. Upon reaching Jacksonville, Florida, he checked weather and requested a clearance direct to Florence, South Carolina. They were handed off to Florence Approach Control about 20 miles south of Florence. The left fuel gauge indicated 5 to 6 gallons of fuel. The right fuel gauge was empty. They were cleared for the ILS approach, and handed off to Florence tower. The left fuel gauge indicated about 3 gallons of fuel remaining. They were established on the localizer course and just inside the outer marker at 1,800 feet, 4.6 miles from the runway when the engine started to sputter. The private pilot turned the boost pump on, switched fuel tanks, rocked the wings and pumped the throttle with negative results. The engine quit. The private pilot established a glide and he declared an emergency. They became VFR at about 800 feet. There were no forced landing areas available. He informed the private pilot that he had the flight controls. The airplane collided with trees and a house. He further stated there was no odor or leakage of fuel present, and there was no known mechanical problem with the airplane. The pilot-in-command informed a Florence Police Department sergeant during an interview that they were on final approach when they ran out of fuel.

A witness stated he heard an airplane overhead. He looked up and saw the airplane come out of the clouds. The engine sputtered and then cut off. The airplane continued towards the east disappearing below the tree line.

Examination of the crash site revealed no odor or visible evidence of fuel. Inspection of the carburetor bowl drain produced less than 1/2 ounce of fuel. No indication of fuel leakage stains were found around the fuel filler cap of either wing. The airplane was transported to a full service maintenance fixed base operator. The propeller and flywheel were replaced with serviceable parts. The engine was started and developed power.

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