News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

August 28, 2013

Plane crash takes life of pilot

Aircraft registered to a Terre Haute corporation

PARIS, ILL. — An aircraft with ties to Terre Haute crashed about midday Tuesday in Edgar County, Ill., killing the pilot.

No passengers were aboard the small, fixed-wing, twin-engine aircraft at the time of the crash, according to officials.

The name of the victim had not been released as of Tuesday night.

According to information provided to the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot reported engine trouble just before the crash, which happened soon after takeoff.

The aircraft, according to information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration website, was a Cessna 421C fixed-wing aircraft registered to Venenzia Marine Inc., which is a business with a Terre Haute address, according to the FAA.

A truck driver reported smoke in a wooded area about a half mile east of the Edgar County Airport about 11:30 a.m., according to law enforcement and other officials gathered Tuesday afternoon at the Emergency Services Disaster Agency for Edgar County.

Soon, emergency responders discovered the source of the smoke was the crashed aircraft with a single occupant onboard.

Two hours later, at approximately 2:15 p.m., Edgar County Coroner Pete Templeton confirmed the single occupant of the aircraft was a fatality, said Don Wiseman, public information officer for the Edgar County agency.

The weather Tuesday afternoon was hot and the sky was nearly cloudless as deputies, firefighters and others worked the scene from a low spot on Indian Boundary Street, a narrow country road near the crash site. The plane went down anywhere from a quarter of a mile to a full mile east of the airport, according to different authorities.

A federal investigator is due on the scene soon, an NTSB official in Chicago told the Tribune-Star Tuesday. The investigator will examine all “perishable” evidence at the crash site in addition to airport radar data, air traffic control recordings, weather reports, the history of the flight and the pilot’s flight plan if one was filed, the official said. That part of the investigation should take a couple of days with a preliminary report posted on the NTSB website within 10 business days, he said.

A full report of the crash, which involves looking at many other factors, will be available in about 12 months, the NTSB official stated Tuesday. The NTSB handles about 400 aircraft accidents each year, the official said.

Edgar County Airport, about three miles north of Paris, is a small airport with a couple of large, poll barn-style buildings and a small office. On Tuesday, just a handful of small aircraft were parked in different areas around the airfield. The airport, also known as Huffman Field, is completely surrounded by farm fields, most of which contained tall corn stalks Tuesday.

The Edgar County Coroner’s office referred inquiries concerning the pilot’s identity to the Edgar County emergency services. However, emergency officials said the FAA was handling media inquiries. The FAA, in a recorded message, referred calls to the NTSB. An official in the NTSB Chicago office stated late Tuesday afternoon that the identity of the victim would be released by local authorities.

The aircraft was manufactured in 1976, according to information on the FAA website. Attempts were made to reach a business with Venenzia Marine’s Terre Haute address without success shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

 

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