Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 28, 2009

Plane goes down near 1-75, two die

Single-engine craft crashed in ditch feet from I-75 South

GAYLORD -- Two Gaylord men died after their single-engine plane crashed in a ditch just off I-75 south of Vanderbilt in Otsego County.

Witnesses said an Aeronca fixed-wing, two-seat aircraft circled I-75 and apparently attempted to land on the highway before it crashed shortly before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Sgt. Jeff Gorno, of the Michigan State Police post in Gaylord.

The plane narrowly missed at least one motorist, he said.

Gorno would not identify the victims, but said they included two men, 52, and 32, both of Gaylord. He confirmed their deaths to the Record-Eagle about 10:30 p.m.

One victim was transported to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, where he was pronounced dead. The other was taken to Otsego Memorial Hospital.

The plane was owned by Screamin Aviation LLC of Gaylord, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. Screamin Aviation LLC was listed as in care of Patrick J. McNamara, FAA records show, and the LLC's address was the same as Image North, a radiology specialty clinic in Gaylord founded by McNamara, a Gaylord physician and radiologist.

FAA records showed Screamin Aviation owned three aircraft, including the Aeronca.

Police, hospital, and Gaylord Regional Airport officials would not confirm McNamara as among the victims. A woman who answered the telephone at Image North would not comment when asked about McNamara.

Matt Barrisi, Gaylord Regional Airport's director, said it was "too early to tell" whether the plane had left or was attempting to return to the airport. Gaylord Regional is about eight miles from the crash site, Barrisi said.

FAA and National Transportation Safety Board officials were expected to arrive in Gaylord today to begin an investigation, Gorno said.

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