KOKOMO, Ind. — Three people were killed Sunday during a plane crash in Kokomo, according to the Howard County Sheriff’s Office.
At around 11:00 a.m. Sunday, authorities received phone calls of an airplane down and on fire near the Glenndale Airport at 3460 South 400 West.
Three occupants of the plane were pronounced dead:
- Jerral Alan Long, 63, of Kokomo
- Liam Patrick Kelly, 17, of Carmel
- Reece David Kelly, 15, of Carmel (brother of Liam)
Officials say a 17-year-old Greentown boy survived the crash. Investigators say the teen was sitting in the back of the plane.
His family told FOX59 he is in stable condition and will need surgery for his burns. According to his family, the teen got his pilots license just about a month ago. He was not flying the plane that day.
A preliminary investigation shows prior to crashing, the 1980 Piper PA-32, piloted by Long, was approaching the airstrip from the north to perform a landing. Upon approach, the aircraft struck a large high-tension wooden power line, causing the plane to nose-dive into the cornfield below.
The three teens on board were reported to being members of the “Flying Squirrels” club and were flying prior to the annual Glenndale Days BBQ Bash charity event at the Glenndale Airport.
Liam Kelly loved airplanes and had applied to the Air Force Academy to fulfill his dream. In 2017, he traveled with his mom on a medical mission trip to Haiti.
Reece Kelly previosly participated in the school band and wanted to follow his brother into the Air Force Academy.
The boys were preceded in death by their infant sister, Olivia Kelly.
The brothers went to Westfield High School. The Learning Center at the school was opened as a safe space for small groups or individuals to process and share memories of the Kellys. Administrators and counselors were on site to provide emotional support and facilitate conversation.
“What the Kelly family is experiencing is unimaginable, but in challenging times like this, we find our strength in those around us,” Dr. Sherry Grate, superintendent of Westfield Washington Schools said. “So, let’s lift each other up, let’s lift the Kelly family up and let’s come together as a Shamrock family and support each other through this difficult time.”
The parents of Liam and Reece plan to set up a memorial scholarship fund in honor of their sons.
A memorial service for the Kelly brothers will be held at 7:00 pm on Friday, September 25, 2020 at Grace Church, 5504 East 146th Street in Noblesville, with a celebration visitation from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm at the church.
Randy Wilson owns the property where the crash happened. It was the impact between the plane and power line pole that caught his attention when he was mowing the lawn.
“He went into the transmission lines and then boom and then went to the ground in the cornfield,” he explained. “By far, the worst crash since I have lived here.”
Wilson said he has lived at this home since the ’80s. He called 911 when he saw the plane go down. As a retired firefighter, instinct kicked in. About a dozen other people from the airport tried to help too, according to Wilson.
“I told them I can’t imagine somebody surviving this,” he said. “There were folks that did everything they could to try to do something.”
Wilson said he was shocked someone survived the crash. When he met up with other rescuers at the edge of the airport, he saw a person sitting on a four-wheeler. Someone told him they had walked him out.
“I will never forget three people passed away on my property,” said Wilson. “It is tragic and I feel for the family.
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 235 of Kokomo issued this statement:
“It is with great sadness today that we mourn the loss of our fellow pilots, friends and family. Yesterday morning at the “Glenndale Days” event, our four friends volunteering for the weekend decided to take a flight around the city before things got too busy. Tragically, coming back in to land, they collided with a utility pole for the high tension power lines, and crashed in a field just short of the runway. The pilot and two of the three young men with him perished. The third young man is in stable condition in the hospital. As you can imagine, our airport community and families are completely devastated. Please pray for these families and everyone involved.”