2 dead after plane crashes near Gary/Chicago Airport

Published: Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 8:40 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Two men were killed when a small plane crashed about a mile east of the Gary/Chicago Airport Wednesday morning, coming to rest hundreds of feet from a school, police said.

The accident occurred shortly after 11 a.m. near 7th Avenue and Clark Road in Gary, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, involving a single-engine Cirrus plane, which had taken off from Smyrna, Tenn. earlier Wednesday.

No details were available on the men who died, according to police, but the plane's tail number indicates it was owned by Gandy Air LLC in Saint Augustine, Fla. Phone calls to officials listed as officers in Gandy Air on Florida corporate records were not returned Wednesday.

The plane went down about in a wooded area about 400 feet from the Lighthouse Charter School in Gary, according to Gary Fire Capt. Donald Parker.

The plane was burning when fire crews arrived, he said. Firefighters approached the wreckage but were unable to get close enough to rescue anyone, Parker said.

At least one body was seen lying on the ground near the plane, he said, but he said it may have been two people deceased.

Officials from the Lake County Coroner's office removed the bodies from the scene of the crash around 5:35 p.m., according to Sean A. Jones, commander special operations for the Gary police. The victims' identities were expected to be released later this morning, according to a coroner's office spokeswoman.

Airport Director Steve Landry said he could not confirm whether the plane had been bound for Gary/Chicago, or whether air traffic controllers there had been in contact with the plane before it crashed.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to Gary Wednesday night, Jones said.

Lake County Coroner Merrilee Fry went to the scene but was not immediately able to inspect the wreckage because of concerns about hazardous materials, according to an office spokeswoman. As of 9:30 p.m. the cororner's office would not confirm any details.

"Today was a sad day in our city. Our hearts go out to the families of these plane crash victims. I also extend my gratitude to all of the first responders from the City of Gary, surrounding cities and towns, Lake County and the State of Indiana," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. "These men and women put their lives on the line everyday, and we appreciate them for putting our safety first."

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