FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A mass fatality team will begin work this morning to recover the bodies of those killed when a South Florida based airplane crashed into a northern Ohio apartment building killing everyone on board.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has confirmed the name of one of those killed as Diane Smoot, 50, of Boca Raton.
Smoot’s sister, Jeannie Ferraia, and other family members say she worked for the real estate company Pebb Enterprises and was traveling with company executives as they searched for real estate development sites to purchase.
“Our hearts are broken this morning with the news of the tragic accident that took the lives of two principals and five employees of Pebb Enterprises. We are shocked and deeply saddened for the families, colleagues and friends of those who perished. Our first priority is to give our fullest support to the family members and loved ones of our co-workers,” said Pebb Enterprises in a statement.
The 10-seat Hawker H25 jet was based out of Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport. The plane’s owner, Augusto Lewkowicz, said two pilots and seven passengers were on the flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and other state and local officials planned to hold a news conference Wednesday at the crash site.
The jet took off from Dayton and planned to land at Akron Fulton International Airport, about 2 miles from where it crashed.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Bill Haymaker said it clipped utility wires on the way down and crashed into the building, which was destroyed by a subsequent fire. The plane then hit an embankment beyond the building, causing a nearby house to also burn.
The plane burst into flames and disintegrated after impact.
There were no reports of any injuries on the ground, Haymaker said. No one was inside the four-unit apartment building or another home that caught fire.
Witnesses said they heard explosions when the plane hit.
Carrie Willis lives several blocks away.
“I heard a big bang, and my couch shook twice,” Willis said.
Another witness, Roberta Porter, lives about a block away from the Akron crash site. She was driving home when she saw the plane crash into the building and burst into flames.
“This plane just dropped out of the sky, veered and crashed into the apartment building,” Porter said.
She said it’s scary to think that if she had been driving faster the plane might have clipped her car.
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