December 3, 2009

Plane Crash Tragedy Tarnishes Thanksgiving for Local Family

A regular holiday commute to Illinois turned tragic for a local family when their single-engine plane crashed shortly after take-off from the Kewanee, IL, airport on Monday, November 23rd. The accident occurred after 5:00 p.m. The first emergency responders arrived shortly after 5:45 p.m.

The 1976 Cessna 182P plane piloted by Harold D. Middleton, 82, of Downing, crashed in a cornfield approximately a half a mile from the municipal airport.

A passenger in the plane, 14-year-old Austin Middleton, was able to run through the cornfield and back to the airport to summon aid.

All three passengers in the plane were transported to the Kewanee Hospital, where Peggy Middleton, 83, the wife of the pilot, was pronounced dead by Henry County Coroner Dave Johnson.

H. and Austin Middleton suffered minor injuries and were treated and released.

Authorities from the Federal Aviation Administration were on the scene on November 24th collecting information in an effort to determine the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board will handle the final report.

Family members indicated the plane apparently came down soon after take-off, making the crash a bit less violent, but still leaving the plane with one wing torn off. They indicated the survivors were fortunate the plane did not catch fire, since the wings are the primary fuel storage areas.

The Downing couple had flown to Illinois to pick up their grandson to bring him back to Memphis for the Thanksgiving holidy.

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