Indiana University and its Jacobs School of Music this weekend mourn the loss of five PhD students who died in a plane crash near Monroe County Airport.
Authorities identified the five students as Robert Clayton Samels, Zachary J. Novak, Garth A. Eppley, Georgina H. Joshi, and Chris Bates Carducci.
IU Masters student Joshi, 24, from South Bend was listed as the pilot of the single-engine Cessna 206 that crashed Thursday night near Monroe County Airport after a flight from Lafayette.
Federal investigators said a final decision on the cause of the accident could take up to a year, but a preliminary report should take about a week.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ed Malinowski said a team from his department and the Federal Aviation Administration would focus on three things.
“We’ll look at the plane, the pilot and the weather,” said Malinowski.
The students were returning from rehearsal for a concert in Lafayette. “It is a tragic loss for the university family,” said IU President Adam Herbert at a press conference at the Van Buren Fire Department.
The faculty, staff and students at the School of Music are very close, ”he said. “It’s a family atmosphere. The students take it very hard. “
The students had flown to Lafayette to rehearse for a concert by the city’s Bach Choral Singers. The concert scheduled for tonight at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Lafayette has been canceled.
Gwyn Richards, dean of the music school, met with family members of the killed students on Friday evening.
IU student dean Dick McKaig said the university provided grief counselors for students they knew. “As soon as we know who her friends were, we will contact her,” he said.
Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Joe Watts said the plane disappeared from radar around midnight. Watts said the wreck was found around 4:15 a.m. on Friday south of Monroe County Airport – now officially called Kisters Field.
The crash site is a densely forested area southwest of the intersection of Kirby and Flughafenstraßen, south of a drawbar there.
Rescue workers reported that there was no fire and the badly damaged aircraft was found upside down.
From the air, the visible wreck was concentrated in a very small area. The remaining parts have not been moved and can be left in place until Sunday.
Authorities said the pilot activated the airport lights from the cockpit but never landed.
Malinowski said the flight reportedly left Lafayette around 11 p.m. Joshi had recorded an estimated flight time of 40 minutes for the trip.
It had been routine by the time it disappeared from the radar screens of the Terre Haute and Indianapolis air authorities, but Malinowski said he and Federal Aviation Administration officials had not yet checked communications between the plane and the air traffic control towers.
A massive search for the plane began with multiple calls from the 5200 block of West Ind. 45, reporting a low-flying plane at around 11:40 pm
Callers described “the spitting and sputtering of an airplane” and the sound of “extreme acceleration, which is unusual for an airplane coming in for landing,” said Mike Cornman, assistant chief of fire, Ellettsville. Some reported hearing a loud bang. “
I sat at my computer and heard a loud airplane fly over, ”said Cristina Brooks. “(I) heard the engines revving twice before the sound came.” She said the sound was like a loud “pop”. for the Van Buren Fire Department said a transponder signal from inside the aircraft had been picked up by civil aviation patrol aircraft flying over the premises.
We had about 60 people searching the area, but with the plane’s transponder we were able to triangulate and eventually locate the plane’s position, “Cornman said.
This article originally appeared in The Herald-Times: Plane crash kills five