Two people have been killed in a single-engine plane crash near the Seward Municipal Airport. The crash occurred around 9:30 Sunday morning north of Fletcher Road and just north of the Seward Municipal Airport Runway.
Responding members of the Seward Fire and Rescue found the aircraft and the two occupants. The two people killed have been identified as Jeff Clausen, age 58 of Lincoln, NE. and Mark Pearson, 56 a resident of Plymouth, NE. Lincoln, NE. Autopsies have been ordered in connection with the investigation into the cause of the crash according to Seward County Sheriff Joe Yocum.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent two representatives immediately to the scene to begin to investigate the crash. An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrived early Monday to examine the wreckage of the single-engine experimental aircraft. The area around the crash site was secured overnight until investigators could continue to seek answer to the cause of the fatal crash.
Seward City Administrator Brett Baker said the fatal crash is shocking for airport officials. "They'll be reeling for awhile trying to recover from this and luckily it hasn't happened before. And it's a tragedy for them, but mostly the families involved in it," said Baker.
"An individual from Wal-Mart Super Center actually saw the plane take off. We assume they were coming off our north runway trying to gain altitude and then the plane went down. She had a pretty good line of sight of where it was at, except that it was in a cornfield," Baker said.
Authorities could not see the crash from the road. A local pilot helped locate the plane.
"It was approximately 5-700 yards into that cornfield so until we actually got in there and without the help of that regional pilot circling above it, I don't think that our city guys would have found it for awhile," said Baker.
Emergency responders used a utility vehicle to plow through the cornfields and reach the plane.
"I know that he did just recently purchase this aircraft but I don't know if he was familiar with that type of aircraft or not," said Baker.
The pilot kept his plane stored at Seward Municipal Airport. Officials saw him fuel up before takeoff.
There was no fire when the crash occurred. Officials were able to identify the victims and said the lack of damage to the crash site will help the wrap up the investigation quickly.
Fletcher road is closed near the airport.
A press conference is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. at the Seward Airport Main Administration Office. A representative from the NTSB will make brief statement and attempt to answer media questions.