Melinda Krick

By MELINDA KRICK

Progress Editor

GROVER HILL – Authorities are investigating the crash of a small airplane that occurred east of Wayne Trace High School in Latty Township on Thursday evening. According to reports, three people were killed.

Representatives from FAA and NTSB were scheduled to visit the site Friday.

The crash was reported about 6 p.m. near the intersection of Roads 60 and 137, northwest of Grover Hill.

FAA Accident and Incident Notification indicates the aircraft was a single-engine, four-seat Cirrus SR 22 carrying a pilot and two passengers.

The description states that “Toledo APCH (Approach) lost radar contact with the aircraft at 5,000 feet on IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight plan crashed with three fatal on board under unknown circumstances.”

Further reports state that the plane, registered to Orthopedic Aviation Services LLC of Middletown, Delaware, left Washington, Iowa, approximately 2:54 p.m. Central Time en route to Findlay, Ohio. It had been scheduled to arrive at 5:45 p.m. Thursday.

 Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers issued a press release at 2:25 a.m. Friday. "Shortly before 6 p.m., 911 calls were received about a possible explosion near Road 60 and Road 137 located in Latty Township. First responders located a crash involving a small aircraft in an open field at the above intersection.

"At this time, due to the level of destruction at the scene, we are investigating this as a fatal airplane crash. Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Paulding County Coroner's Office, Grover Hill Fire Department and a Aviation Crash Investigation team within the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association are actively working the scene.

"According to witnesses, there were flames visible from the aircraft prior to striking the field. No other citizens or structures were damaged as a result of this crash."

Numerous fire departments and EMS squads were on scene Thursday night, as well as the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, county EMA and state troopers. Later, the local Red Cross chapter was called to assist as emergency responders worked in poor weather conditions with strong winds and rain verging on sleet.

A small area of debris was burning just a few hundred feet across the road from the farm home of Gene and Ramona Ruble.

“We were eating, and all of a sudden, I thought I heard a bomb. It sounded like a bomb,” Ramona said.

“We heard a terrible boom. There a bright light outside. I looked out the window and it looked like our buildings were on fire,” Gene added.

Brian Ruble, and his son, Nick, both said they heard and felt the explosion at Brian’s home a half mile to the south.

Ramona quickly went outside and looked west toward the field and saw a long streak of flames. “I thought maybe a semi was in the ditch on fire.” Then she then tried to call 9-1-1.

“Thick black smoke surrounded our place, driven by the west wind,” Gene said. He said he saw scattered wreckage on fire, including a piece burning in the ditch.

The Rubles said a young woman was driving by at the time of the crash. She told them she saw the plane on fire while it was still airborne, before impact. “She said she saw a fireball coming down,” said Gene.