CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. – Investigators say everyone on board a small plane died after it crashed in Carroll County Thursday night.
According to Indiana State Police, the crash site is near the intersection of County Road 600 S and 500 W, north of the town of Rossville. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says authorities located the wreckage of a Cessna 441 aircraft in the area.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be in charge of the investigation. Indiana State Police believe there are no survivors. The plane can hold up to 10 people.
Family members identified three victims in the crash as John T. Pagel, his son-in-law Steven Witcpalek and pilot Nathan Saari. State police have not said how many people in total were on board.
The Pagel family issued this statement:
"Many of you heard our family and extended family is grieving the loss of owner, father, person and friend, John T. Pagel, as well as John’s son-in-law, Steven Witcpalek, and pilot Nathan Saari. We appreciate the outpouring of the communities thoughts and prayers and request your respect for the privacy of the family as we wait for additional information. As we know more details we will keep you informed."
According to flightaware.com, a Cessa 441 took off from Eagle Creek Airpark at 7:20 p.m. headed for Green Bay, Wisconsin. It went down about 20 minutes later.
Officers set up a wide perimeter Thursday night, closing some of the local roads after the plane went down. Police said people who live nearby reported hearing a loud noise.
"We were in the kitchen listening to the Purdue-Illinois (basketball) game, and I was like, 'What was that?' And I thought we had the surround sound on and that might be (the reason for the sound)," said witness Cindy Haan. "Then we heard more of an explosion, and I was like, 'Oh my, there's a car wreck,' and it happened out here, but as you can see, it's incredibly dark out here."
She said her heart dropped when she realized what happened.
"The Rossville Police Department came through and I stopped, and he stopped, and we met on the road," Haan recalled. "(He said) we have an aircraft down. And I just went, 'That's what the explosion was.'"
"When officers arrived, they did find a plane did crash and, unfortunately, there are fatalities," said Sgt. Tony Slocum with Indiana State Police. "We believe there were no survivors."
Slocum said the area has received a lot of rain in the past few days, leading to muddy conditions in the field where the plane crashed and hampering the search effort. Dark conditions at night also made it difficult for investigators. He said the FAA and NTSB would be onsite Friday morning to examine the wreckage.