Plane crashes near Gary airport, killing two
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org October 3, 2012 12:05PM
Updated: November 5, 2012 11:31AM
GARY — At least two people were killed Wednesday morning when their single-engine plane crashed into a wooded area east of West Gary Lighthouse Charter School.
The plane crashed around 11:20 a.m., breaking into pieces and bursting into flames.
Gary Fire Department Capt. Don Parker said heavy smoke and flames were coming from the wreckage when Engine No. 8 arrived. Parker said two bodies were thrown from the wreckage, and the Lake County Coroner’s Office was searching for body parts because some of the bodies were separated in the crash.
Plane debris covered a 40-square-foot area on the eastern edge of Brunswick Park.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said a four-passenger plane from Smyrna, Tenn., was scheduled to arrive at 11:19 a.m. at the Gary Jet Center at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. Freeman-Wilson said the plane left Smyrna around 9:39 a.m. The passengers were from Tennessee, but Freeman-Wilson declined to release their names.
John Black with the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority told The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn., that the plane arrived in Smyrna Tuesday night and left Wednesday morning. It did not originate in Smyrna.
Gary officials said investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were en route.
Anthony McClinton, a Gary Fire Department division chief at the airport, said neither radar nor the airport received a distress signal.
People living nearby said they heard a boom, but they assumed it was a car crash or came from nearby train tracks. Freeman-Wilson said scheduled events at Brunswick Community Center were canceled for the rest of the day due to its proximity to the crash site.
Concerned parents of students at the charter school lined the sidewalks near the intersection of Clark Street and 7th Avenue. Several people said they received a call from the school letting them know students were safe and they would be released at the normal time of 1:45 p.m.
Freeman-Wilson said the students were walked to the Tri-City Center for parents and buses to pick them up.
The plane was said to be a Cirrus SR22, a four-passenger model. The company’s website describes the SR22 as “luxury travel at its best.”
The plane was registered to Gandy Air of St. Augustine, Fla.
Gary/Chicago International Airport Interim Director Steve Landry said the city notified him of the crash, but he had no information on where the plane originated or was headed.
“We are going through our processes at the airport,” Landry said.
The crash site is less than 2 miles southeast of the airport and south of the Commons shopping center.
FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory confirmed there was a crash, but she said identification of the dead would be done by the coroner.