Airplane crash victims named
Published: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 7:48 AM EDT
By STACY LANGLEY
Tribune Staff Writer
SEBEWAING TWP — Two men killed late Monday in a plane crash south of the Sebewaing Airport have been identified following an autopsy Tuesday at Huron Medical Center.
Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson said while the results of the autopsy are not yet known as it relates to the cause of death for both men, a positive identification has been made.
Killed were Allan C. Lumley, 54, of Lapeer, the owner of the airplane and presumed pilot at the time of the crash, and his passenger, Douglas Kerchner, 53, of Goodrich.
Hanson said the crash remains under investigation by officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), who now have the task of determining the cause of Monday’s crash.
Hanson joined the FAA and NTSB Tuesday morning at the crash site where the plane, a 1991 yellow and white Super Decathlon two-seater, went down in a farm field just before 6 p.m. Monday.
“I turned over police reports and photos taken of the crash,” said Hanson about his meeting with FAA and NTSB officials in Sebewaing Tuesday. “They said they would be taking apart the engine to see if they could find a cause (for the crash).”
Hanson said it was unclear how long the investigation to determine the cause will take before the findings are released.
The Sebewaing Fire Department and local law enforcement officials were dispatched at 5:49 p.m. Monday to a field of corn stubble near Bay Street and Liken Road in Sebewaing Township following a report of a plane crash. Firefighters were given the “green light” by the NTSB to use the Jaws of Life to cut apart the aircraft to remove the bodies Monday evening.
Kerchner, a retired F-16 fighter pilot, was the first to be removed from the wreckage followed by Lumley. The bodies of both men were transported by Sebewaing Ambulance to Huron Medical Center for autopsy Tuesday.
Police report a female witness observed the aircraft prior to the crash heading (south) away from the airport. The aircraft made a turn in the sky back toward the airport, began to make a sputtering sound, then the engine quit completely and the aircraft fell straight down to the ground, where it caught fire.
Tom Cresswell, a professional aerial photographer and commercial pilot, told the Tribune Monday evening he witnessed the aircraft at the airport just prior to the crash at around 5 to 5:30 p.m. Monday.
“I witnessed the plane come in (to the airport’s runway), fly down, reduce power, all of which was normal. It touched down, a bit hard, but it was under control,” Cresswell said. “The aircraft taxied back to the north end where it sat idle for a few minutes facing north. Still nothing unusual. He (the pilot) applied full power and took off, and I went back to what I was doing. I was tying my plane down, when a fellow drove in, he asked me what the smoke was as he pointed off in that direction, coming from the field. Moments later, I noticed the fire trucks and I walked down this way (about a half mile from the airport) and saw what it was.”
The Huron County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by the Sebewaing police, fire and ambulance, Fairhaven Township police, Huron County Medical Examiner Dr. Richard E. Lockard and Sebewaing Airport Manager Dennis Montei.
Montei said the aircraft apparently touched down only briefly at the Sebewaing Airport and originated from another airport. The aircraft’s destination was not known.
The airplane was destroyed by the fire.
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