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Published: Wednesday, 6/18/2008

Sandusky County coroner: Impact killed 6 on plane in Fremont

FREMONT - The six people killed June 8 in a plane crash near here died of multiple blunt-force injuries and were dead before the plane burst into flames, Dr. John Wukie, Sandusky County coroner, said yesterday.

Former state legislator Gene Damschroder's single-engine Cessna U206C Super Skywagon crashed and burned in a field along Barker Road in Ballville Township after taking off for the sixth flight of the day from the Fremont airport that Mr. Damschroder owned and founded years ago.

Killed were Mr. Damschroder, 86, and his passengers. Bill Ansted, 62; his daughter, Allison, 23; her fiance, Matt Clearman, 25; Danielle Gerwin, 31, and her daughter, Emily, 4.

During or shortly after the crash, a fire started in the body of the plane.

"Their bodies were burned, but they died before the fire started," Dr. Wukie said.

The fatal flight took place during an annual fly-in pancake breakfast at the Fremont airport. The event was a fund-raiser for the local Lions Club.

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board said that after the plane took off, it was flying low and heading southwest when it banked, descended, and crashed into the field.

One witness told investigators the plane was flying very slowly and at a relatively low altitude after takeoff.

The engine "throttled up" and the left wing dipped before it crashed about a mile from the airport, the report said. Tanks in both wings contained fuel.

People from the neighborhood ran to the plane and Ohio Highway Patrol troopers said one girl who lived nearby tried pulling open a door on the plane as it burst into flames. At that point, rescuers reluctantly moved away.

NTSB Investigator Mitchell Gallo said a final report won't be available for about a year.

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