Four people were killed in a plane crash in Iowa that authorities say took place after the pilot suffered a heart attack mid-flight.
The crash took place in Guthrie County on Friday, when the pilot of a Piper aircraft, 49-year-old Edward Ralph Anderson, suffered a heart attack sometime after the plane took off. As MSN News reported, a student pilot onboard then tried to make an emergency landing of the single-engine, but it ended up crashing into a cow pasture close to 115 miles from where it took off.
Anderson’s father told the Des Moines Register that his son had 15 years experience flying and was taking the three people onboard to a hunting trip at the time he suffered the heart attack.
“My son really enjoyed flying,” Anderson told the newspaper.
It was a coincidence that one of the passengers onboard happened to be a student pilot though he could not complete the landing, said Tom Mullaly, manager of the Le Mars Municipal Airport and a longtime friend of Anderson.
He said the news was shocking.
“What happened is just heartbreaking,” said Mullally, who the Des Moines Register noted watched the flight take off and later joined in on the search efforts.
As the Des Moines Register reported, the plane disappeared from air traffic control radar sometime before reaching its destination, leading police to launch an extensive search for the aircraft. It was more than 13 hours before the plane would be found, with a resident reporting the plan had gone down in a cow pasture.
Police said the plane “impacted very hard” on the ground and that wreckage was scattered nearby. Pictures published in local newspapers showed a deep hole in the ground where the plane appeared to make its first impact.
The others killed in the plane crash were identified as 36-year-old Patrick Kellen, 15-year-old Samantha Clark, and 28-year-old Tyler Douvia. It was not clear if any of them had survived the initial crash or died in the hours afterward, as the wreckage sat in sub-freezing temperatures. It was also not clear if Anderson’s heart attack was fatal or if he survived at any length of the remainder of the flight before the plane crash.
The plane crash remains under investigation.
The plane crash was the deadliest in Iowa since 2007, when a single-engine Cessna crashed during an approach to the Council Bluffs Municipal Airport in bad weather, killing all four people on board.