A small jet has hit at least three homes on Iowa Street southeast of the South Bend Regional Airport. FAA spokesman Roland Herwig confirms of the four people on the jet, two were killed and two were injured.
At least three people were taken to Memorial Hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening, according to a hospital spokesperson. Two are in fair condition and one is serious. The person in serious condition underwent surgery.
South Bend Assistant Fire Chief John Corthier said late Sunday. Corthier said officials believe everyone connected with the damaged homes had been accounted for and there were no known missing people.
The jet was a Beechcraft Premier 1 with tail number N26DK – out of the Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport in Tulsa, OK.
The plane was registered to 7700 Enterprises of Montana LLC in Helena, Mont. The company is owned by Wes Caves and does business as DigiCut Systems in Tulsa, Okla. It makes window film and paint overlay for automobiles.
This happened around 4:30 p.m. According to South Bend fire, the plane was 8 miles west of the airport headed to runway 9. It touched down one time then started to climb again and then it crashed.
On approach the pilot reported a problem with electrical power, according to the FAA.
Although authorities believe everyone was accounted for, Corthier said firefighters still want to search the heavily damaged home where the plane rests.
"I believe they said they're going to have to tear down a portion of the house to make it stable. That probably won't happen until (Monday)," he said.
Jet fuel inside another house posed a hazard, Corthier said.
"The leaking has stopped, but there is fuel in the basement. That is one of our major concerns, the fuel," Corthier said.
An engine company was en route to the airport when its members witnessed the crash, Corthier said.
"Our arrival on the scene was immediate. Our working to get the occupants out started immediately. We were able to get some of the occupants out of the plane right away," Corthier said.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigator arrived on the scene Sunday night.
Electricity was cut off to part of the neighborhood and there was a mandatory evacuation because of the jet fuel leak.
Buses transported up to 200 people to a nearby shelter, Red Cross volunteer Jackie Lincoln said. At least one evacuation center was opened at the South Bend Firefighter's Union Hall on Lincoln Way West between Knoblock Street and Maplewood Avenue.
Now people on Bendix and Ryers Streets are being allowed back into their homes, but those who live on Iowa won't be allowed to return until at least Monday.
Linda's Camp K9 in Mishawaka is offering no-charge dog or cat boarding for those who have been affected by today's plane crash. Owner Linda Candler says cats may have to be in crates but they can make it work if that's not possible. Camp K9 is located at 1817 Elder Road, they can be reached at: 574-256-CAMP.
"We could've been killed”
Stan Klaybor, who lives across the street from the crash scene, said the jet clipped the top of one house, heavily damaged a second, and finally came to rest against a third. A young boy in the third house did not appear to be seriously injured, Klaybor said.
“Her little boy was in the kitchen and he got nicked here,” Klaybor said, pointing to his forehead.
His wife, Mary Jane, regularly watches planes approach the airport.
“I was looking out my picture window. The plane’s coming, and I go, ‘Wait a minute,’ and then, boom,” she said.
“This one was coming straight at my house. I went, ‘Huh?’ and then there was a big crash, and all the insulation went flying,” she said.
Patricia Kobalski lives in one of the homes that was it. It's a day she will never forget.
"I looked outside my back door and I saw part of a plane,” she said. “I don't know how much of it there was in my house, but my roof was caved in and there was glass everywhere, the front of the house, windows busted out. I just grabbed my son and got him some clothes and we ran out."
Kobalski and her 6-year-old son made it out OK, but are understandably upset.
“I'm still real scared actually,” she said. “I'm still real shaken up because we could've been killed.”
But she's worried about her neighbors.
“I could see one house, the whole back is gone.”
Vickie Kline lives nearby.
"First thing we heard was the bang crash, the explosion, then we got closer from the outside we could see the smoke and we went down and you could see where the back of the house was completely gone and you could smell the gas,” Kline said. “real strong gas odor and that's when they were telling everybody to get back."
“At this point I'm not worried about material things, I'm just glad my son and I made it out and we're alive,” said Kobalski.
Calls to Great Lakes Region FAA public relations prompts the following recording:
"This is the Federal Aviation Information with all the information we have Sunday afternoon about an aircraft accident we have near South Bend, Indiana. This is a Hawker Beechcraft Premier jet that was on approach to South Bend. It had departed Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lloyd Jones Airport near Tulsa earlier today. Unknown number of people on board but on approach the pilot reported a problem with electrical power, made several attempts to approach and then on the final attempt to approach it stalled and crashed into at least one home.
The local search and rescue can give you more information about the number of people on board and the injuries involved. N26DK is the tail number of the aircraft. You can look up that number on our website at FAA.gov for the registration but we caution you that the owner is not necessarily the pilot. Again, that's all the information we have at this time. The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate. The National Transportation safety board may also investigate. These investigations may take several weeks or more before they are completed."
The FAA and NTSB are investigating. A preliminary report is not expected for 7 to 10 days.
Autopsies are expected to be performed tomorrow.
The Tribune and WSBT-TV are on the scene and will have more updates as soon as they're available. Stay with us online and on the air tonight at 10 and 11.