Four-time Olympic champion survives plane crash with husband, niece and puppy

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Four-time Olympian Shirin Njeim has been discharged from Detroit’s DMC emergency room following a plane crash Sunday in Macomb County that injured a 37-year-old woman and her 44-year-old husband, Ronnie Kamal, as well as their 17-year-old husband. Siena Kamal’s summer niece.

All three were injured when their single-engine Beechcraft A36 crashed shortly after takeoff from Ray Community Airport in Ray Township.

Njeim has represented Lebanon in the Olympic sports of distance running and alpine skiing.

Njeim and her husband from Chicago visited local relatives with their niece from Georgia.

The couple’s 6-month-old golden retriever puppy, Charlie, was also on board the plane when it crashed from about 100 feet in the air.

Ronnie Kamal reportedly said that he lost engine power a few seconds after he raised the landing gear.

Their injuries included broken bones, lacerations and burns.

Investigators from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said the plane landed in a wooded area as Kamal attempted a controlled crash in an area close to the runway.

The couple’s dog Charlie could not be found after the accident.

An extensive search was launched for the puppy, but she could not be found.

But then around 3 a.m. Monday, while Penny Faulk was delivering newspapers in the area, she noticed what she thought was a deer walking in front of her car.

Falk quickly realized it was a puppy.

“I opened the window and said: “Hi, honey. What are you doing here?” And she walked right up to the car and wasn’t going to let me go without her,” Faulk told 7 Action News.

Faulk later learned that the puppy had been in a plane crash. She said Charlie was in pretty good shape.

“She was scared, but not hurt at all,” Faulk said.

Later, Charlie was reunited with relatives from the Ray Fire Department, who took her to the local veterinarian for a checkup.

By Monday afternoon, Njeim and her niece were discharged from the emergency room of a Detroit hospital, but remained in the hospital with loved ones because her husband was undergoing surgery.

Sara Lei-Kamal, Siena’s mother, posted a photo of the teenager smiling and sitting in a hospital bed with his left hand bandaged.

“Her left arm is 100% covered with 2nd degree burns and her forearm is 30% covered,” Lei-Kamal wrote, adding that her daughter will continue her treatment in Georgia.

Lei-Kamal is also one of many who praise Ronnie Kamal’s piloting skills.

“I thank God for keeping her wrapped in bubble wrap and my hands, and Uncle Ronnie for his quick wit and piloting skills that got the plane to land so all three could get away from it.”

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the accident.