CLEVELAND — The four people killed in a plane crash near an Ohio regional airport were students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol today identified the pilot of the plane as 20-year-old William Felten of Saginaw, Michigan, and the passengers as 20-year-old Lucas Marcelli of Massillon, Ohio, 18-year-old Abraham Pishevar of Rockville, Maryland, and 18-year-old John Hill of St. Simons, Georgia.
The Cessna 172R crashed and burst into flames just after takeoff around 10 p.m. Monday from the Cuyahoga County Regional Airport outside Cleveland.
Highway patrol officials say the plane began its ascent and then crashed outside the airport. The occupants were trapped in the wreckage and died at the scene.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash.
Case Western Reserve University is making grief counselors available to students, and university president Barbara Snyder said in a statement that the school would be working closely with the four men’s roommates and friends.
Mark Gerald, 45, said he was sitting on his front porch when the plane went down. He said he could hear the plane struggling, but didn’t see it until it crashed.
Gerald told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that the plane exploded as he and neighbors ran toward it to try to help.
“We thought we had (a chance to help them). It was too hot,” he said. “The whole fuselage was involved.”
William Honaker, 18, said he was driving nearby when he saw a “ball of light” and realized it was a plane on fire.
Honaker said he also tried to approach the aircraft, but onlookers warned him away because of the fire’s intensity.
“(The plane) was so mangled,” Honaker said. “I didn’t want to look at it anymore, to be honest.”