PAULDING COUNTY, Ohio (WANE) – A Thursday night plane crash that left three dead has brought federal investigators to an area in rural Paulding County.
The crash happened near County Road 60 and County Road 137 around 6 p.m. on Thursday, and on Friday evening crews had arrived with heavy construction equipment to help them clear the scene of debris and remove the remains of those who perished in the crash.
said emergency responders were called to a field nThe site is about two miles north of Grover Hill and several miles east of Wayne Trace High School.
Witnesses told police the small plane was on fire before it crashed into the field, which lies about two miles north of Grover Hill and several miles east of Wayne Trace High School. Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers said a passing motorist and a hunter who was nearby would be interviewed Friday about what they saw and heard around the time of the crash.
“They heard an explosion and they actually saw the aircraft on fire in the air prior to the collision on the ground. One of them quite a distance away felt the concussion from the impact. It was a devastating incident that happened,” Landers said.
Debris is scattered in an area about 100 yards by 100 yards, according to Landers. The plane crashed in a field directly across the road from a house.
“The largest amount of material, if you will, is in the ground. We believe the way the aircraft descended into the ground and the speed at the time of the collision caused it to go into the ground, so we have to take our steps to go backwards and properly bring that back out,” Landers said.
According to flight tracking information, it appears the plane was traveling from a Washington, Iowa airport to Findlay, Ohio. Air traffic controllers in Toledo lost radar contact with the plane before it crashed due to still unknown circumstances.
According to information from the Federal Aviation Administration’s accident and incident notifications, there were three people on the plane when it crashed: the pilot and two passengers. All three died. The plane was registered to Orthopedic Aviation Services LLC out of Middletown, Delaware.
It’s unclear if the pilot made radio contact or a distress call before the crash. Landers said they hope media reports about the crash will help them identity details they have not been able to put together at the crash site. This is the first plane crash Landers has encountered as sheriff.
“I’m weighing heavily on people who know what they’re doing through federal agencies and the sheriff’s association. They have people who are trained to know how to investigate this. I’m not afraid to reach out for help,” he said.
The FAA arrived around 11 p.m. from Columbus. A representative from the National Transportation Safety Board out of Chicago was traveling to the scene Friday morning. The Paulding County Sheriff’s Department and firefighters secured the site and assisted with the investigation.
The Grover Hill Fire Department, Paulding County Coroner’s Office, and an Aviation Crash Investigation team with the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association are all involved with the investigation.