SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - A small private aircraft clipped two houses before
smashing into a third and snapping in half, killing two people inside the
plane and leaking enough jet fuel to force the evacuation of nearby homes in
a northern Indiana neighborhood, authorities said.
The front part of the fuselage of the Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet sat
wedged inside the one-story home just southwest of the South Bend Regional
Airport where the pilot had tried to land the plane Sunday afternoon minutes
before the crash.
Two people on board the plane survived and they, along with one person on
the ground, were taken to a hospital, South Bend Assistant Fire Chief John
Corthier said. South Bend Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Maggie Scroope said
one was in serious condition late Sunday and the other two were fair. The
hospital could not provide an update on their conditions early Monday.
Authorities evacuated and cut the power to several homes in the neighborhood
after fuel leaked from the jet’s engine into the basement of the home
creating a “very dangerous” situation, Corthier said. Everyone in the
neighborhood has been accounted for, he said.
One neighbor described her terror as the plane bore down on her home.
“I was looking out my picture window,” said Mary Jane Klaybor, who lives
across the street from the crash site. “This (plane) was coming straight at
my house. I went, ‘Huh?’ and then there was a big crash, and all the
insulation went flying.”
She said: “I saw the plane, then I heard the boom.”
Authorities have not released the identities of those killed and injured in
The plane began its journey in Tulsa, Okla. It is registered to 7700
Enterprises in Helena, Mont., which does business in Tulsa as DigiCut
Systems and is owned by Wes Caves.
A woman identifying herself as Caves’ wife answered the phone at their home
Sunday and said, “I think he’s dead,” before hanging up.
Mike Daigle, executive director of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority,
said the plane attempted a landing at the South Bend airport about 4:15
p.m., then went back up and maneuvered south to try another landing, but
eight minutes later the airport learned the plane was no longer airborne.
He provided no information to indicate if the pilot communicated to the
control tower that the plane was experiencing mechanical trouble or any
other potential cause for the crash. Daigle said Monday he has no firsthand
knowledge about what caused the plane to crash.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox arrived at the
scene late Sunday. He said his agency will be looking for the cause of the
crash and “to identify and remedy any issues that could have prevented this