The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 17, 2013

2 killed when jet crashes in Indiana neighborhood

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A private jet apparently experiencing mechanical trouble crashed Sunday in a northern Indiana neighborhood, hitting three homes and killing two people aboard the plane, authorities said.

The Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet had left Tulsa, Okla.'s Riverside Airport and crashed late Sunday afternoon near South Bend Regional Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig in Oklahoma City said. Two of four people aboard the plane were killed, Herwig said.

It was not clear if anyone on the ground was killed, and Herwig did not have any additional information.

South Bend Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Maggie Scroope said three people injured in the crashed were being treated there; one was in serious condition and two were in fair condition. Scroope did not know if they were on the plane or the ground.

The plane was registered to 7700 Enterprises of Montana LLC in Helena, Mont. The company is owned by Wes Caves and does business as DigiCut Systems in Tulsa, Okla. It makes window film and paint overlay for automobiles.

A woman identifying herself as Caves' wife answered the phone at their home Sunday and said, "I think he's dead," before hanging up.

In South Bend, Assistant Fire Chief John Corthier said everyone on the plane and in the first house struck by the jet had been accounted for four hours after the crash. That wasn't true of the other two houses, and Corthier couldn't say how many people they were still trying to track down.

"We absolutely don't know," Corthier said, adding that the presence of jet fuel and structural damage made the scene "very dangerous" for investigators. The aircraft remained lodged in one of the homes late Sunday.

"We have to shore up the house before we can enter the house," he said.

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