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Published: Saturday, 10/24/2009

Husband, wife killed in single-engine plane crash near Adrian

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ADRIAN - A husband and wife were killed Friday when their single-engine plane went down north of Heritage Park in Raisin Township, Michigan, and exploded into flames, authorities said.

Lenawee County Sheriff Jack Welsh said they were the only people aboard the aircraft, which witnesses said crashed about 4:30 p.m. in an open field near M-52, north of Adrian.

Eric Beaudry and his wife, Deb Rogers-Beaudry, 51, both of Pueblo, Colo., were en route from Scranton, Pa., to the Lenawee County Airport, south of the city.

Family friend, Julie Hinckley, of Tecumseh said the couple were stopping in Lenawee County on their way home from a week's vacation in Martha's Vineyard to visit family.

Mrs. Rogers-Beaudry is originally from Tecumseh and her mother still lives there, Ms. Hinckley said.

She met her husband at Michigan State University where the two attended college.

Sheriff Welsh said relatives of the couple had planned to pick them up at the airport after they arrived.

Eric Beaudry and his wife, Deb Rogers-Beaudry, 51, both of Pueblo, Colo., were en route from Scranton, Pa., to the Lenawee County Airport.
Eric Beaudry and his wife, Deb Rogers-Beaudry, 51, both of Pueblo, Colo., were en route from Scranton, Pa., to the Lenawee County Airport.
UNKNOWN Enlarge

The aircraft was a Commander 114B built in 1994 and owned by Dem Enterprises LLC of Pueblo, Colo., according to Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the Great Lakes Region of the Federal Aviation Administration in Chicago.

The National Transportation Safety Board will have an accident investigator in Raisin Township Saturday, said spokesman Keith Holloway. He said the investigator would question witnesses and analyze radio data and weather conditions.

"This is a fact-gathering process. We won't determine the cause right away," he explained.

Friday night, a Monroe County Sheriff's Office helicopter was being used to conduct a search of the ground to locate wreckage from the plane that may have fallen off while it was in the air.

"We are trying to establish a debris pattern," Mr. Holloway said.

Sheriff Welsh said witnesses reported seeing that a wing on the aircraft appeared to be dangling from the fuselage before the crash.

"The wing was 'hanging' like it was not attached all the way," he said.

He said investigators were trying to determine whether the plane may have struck a cell phone tower north of the crash site on Valley Road before the accident.

He said what appeared to be a wing from the airplane was on the ground away from the wreckage.

"There is not a lot left of the plane. Just a lot of debris scattered all over," Sheriff Welsh said.

Sheriff Welsh said Michigan State Police were bringing a search dog to assist in looking for pieces of the plane wreckage.

Jill Fain, who lives on M-52, said she heard a whining noise from the plane's engine just moments before she heard several large booms.

"It was like thunderstorms but louder. I heard two [booms]. I could hear the plane come down. It shook the whole house," she said.

Ms. Fain said she went to the back of her home to the area of the crash to see thick black smoke and the plane wreckage engulfed in flames.

The crash site, which was surrounded by a wooded area near the park, was about 600 yards from the woman's residence.

Sheriff Welsh said another person who witnessed the plane disappear behind the trees into the field tried to enter the wreckage to help the victims, but was stopped by the flames.

One of the victims was found inside the cockpit and the other person was located outside the aircraft, the sheriff said.

The investigation into the accident is being directed by Raisin Township Police. Chief Scott Lambka could not be reached for comment Friday night.

Michigan State Police and the Lenawee County Sheriff's Office were assisting the township police. FAA officials were on the scene last night to assist in the investigation.

Sheriff Welsh said he didn't know if weather could have been a factor in the accident. He said conditions were hazy and rainy about the time the aircraft crashed.

Recent fatal plane crashes in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan include:

•The crash June 8, 2008, at Fremont Airport that killed its pilot, Gene Damschroder, 86, of Fremont and five others.

Mr. Damschroder, a longtime pilot and a former state representative, was giving airplane rides at the airport, which he owned.

The National Transportation Safety Board, in a report issued this week, noted that Mr. Damschroder had been treated for age-related macular degeneration in the two years before the crash.

The NTSB has not yet issued a probable cause for the crash.

•On Jan. 12, 2008, a twin-engine private plane crashed while approaching Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport, killing all four aboard. They were from the Mansfield, Ohio, area. The plane went down because it was going so slowly that it stopped flying, the NTSB concluded.

•On Sept. 26, 2007, an Illinois man was killed when his single-engine plane crashed in a farm field about two miles west of Defiance. He was headed to Findlay to pick up a family for an Angel Flight mission.

•A Bedford Township man was killed Sept. 21, 2007, when his experimental aircraft, a gyrocopter, crashed in a field near Telegraph and Temperance roads in Monroe County's Erie Township.

•On Sept. 3, 2007, a single-engine plane crashed into Lake Erie near Kelleys Island, killing the pilot from the Lima, Ohio, area and his 9-year-old son. Another son, 6, was rescued from the water by an island resident who saw the crash, jumped into a rowboat, and followed the boy's cries through the dark.

•On Dec. 17, 2006, a family of four from Austin, Texas, was killed when their plane crashed in Bucyrus, Ohio. They were flying from Tulsa, Okla., to Belfast, Maine, and had planned to stop near Akron.

•A Willard man died on Sept. 18, 2005, when his four-seat plane crashed in a cornfield in Seneca County's Hopewell Township.

•On Jan. 17, 2004, a plane crashed into Lake Erie, killing 10 people aboard. They were returning to Windsor, Ont., after hunting on Pelee Island.

Staff writers Carl Ryan and Mark Zaborney contributed to this report.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com.



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