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Published: Monday, 12/18/2006

Small-plane crash kills at least 1 near airport in Bucyrus

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BUCYRUS, Ohio - At least one person was killed last night when a single-engine plane crashed near the Port Bucyrus-Crawford County Airport here, with debris striking a nursing home and an apartment complex, authorities and witnesses said.

No one on the ground was injured, authorities said.

It was unclear whether anyone else was aboard the aircraft, said Lt. Tony Bradshaw, a spokesman for the Ohio Highway Patrol in Columbus.

The crash was reported about 7 p.m., and occurred about a half-mile northeast of the airport, authorities and witnesses said.

Dozens of emergency workers responded to the scene near the Indian Creek apartment complex and Altercare of Bucyrus, a nursing home, both on Whetstone Street.

Whetstone, West Beal Avenue, and Mount Zion Road were closed to traffic.

The plane, a Piper aircraft thought to be large enough to carry four to six people, crashed in a grassy field near the southern edge of the city limits, officials said.

At Altercare, the crash sounded like thunder.

"We heard a big boom," said Tammy Beal, a nursing assistant. "Everybody heard it."

She was inside, but two other nursing assistants who were in the parking lot on a break were so close they feared the plane's falling windshield might hit them.

Part of a wing landed on the building's roof.

The two nursing assistants noticed the plane and told Ms. Beal that they heard it making sounds like a truck gearing down and then saw it spinning around like the blades of a helicopter.

The two women hurried back into the nursing home to call for help, crying, "•'Oh my God, a plane just crashed,'•" Ms. Beal said.

The two woman were unavailable for comment because they were being interviewed by authorities.

Weather in the area at the time was overcast, with visibility of about 10 miles. The winds were from the south at 7 mph, and the temperature was 56 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The aircraft apparently was operating under visual flight rules because the pilot did not file a flight plan.

For that reason, the plane's departure point and its destination were not known, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's regional office in Chicago.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates fatal aircraft accidents, was notified. Investigators from that agency were expected at the crash site today, authorities said.

Bucyrus is about 90 miles southeast of Toledo.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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