Pilot's body found in lake

Father and son died in the crash, second son rescued by island resident
May 24, 2010



Boats dotted the Lake Erie horizon as rescue dive teams, visible from the Kelleys Island shoreline, searched for the last of three people who were aboard a plane that crashed near Kelleys Island.

Jeff Hutchison, 46, of Lima, was piloting his 1962 Cessna 172C Skyhawk when it went down about 9:10 p.m. Monday east of the Kelleys Island Municipal Airport.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Robert K. Lanier said a man's body was recovered about 8:18 p.m. Tuesday, 700 yards off the eastern shore of Kelleys Island, in 18-20 feet of water.

According to a news release late Tuesday from the Coast Guard Ninth District affairs office in Cleveland, the body was identified as that of Jeff Hutchison.

Seaman LaVelle Peterson at Coast Guard Station Marblehead confirmed the report.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay will remain at the scene, but smaller vessels have returned to the coast guard station at Marblehead, Lanier said.

Rescue response teams recovered the body of Jeff's son, Jeremy David Hutchison, 9, Tuesday afternoon. His body was taken to the Lucas County Coroner's office for an autopsy, according to Erie County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Sigsworth.

His other son, 7-year-old Joel Hutchison, was rescued by Kelleys Island resident Chuck Herndon after the crash Monday. Joel was listed in fair condition at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo.

The Hutchisons picnicked near Indian Lake and flew to Kelleys Island for the day, according to officials.

Rescue teams were searching 100 square miles of Lake Erie. U.S. Coast Guard officials said the water temperature is 74 degrees. That means survival was possible for the missing father, they said.

Dr. William Bruner, 118 Martin Lane, saw the plane crash along with his neighbor, Herndon.

"We heard it take off, and I was a little surprised because it's a little unusual to see a plane take off at night," Bruner said. "It didn't seem to be making altitude and stayed about 30 feet off the water and veered to the right. It kind of arced down into the water."

Soon after the plane crashed Herndon rescued Joel, who escaped from the plane after it broke apart on impact, Herndon said.

Kelleys Island Assistant Chief Jack Hostal, one of the first responders to the scene, said the weather conditions were calm with "hardly" any wind.

The fuselage of the plane was found about 11:35 a.m. Tuesday by sonar equipment, about 700 yards east of Kelleys Island in 18-20 feet of water. A wheel was also recovered. Rescue divers recovered the 9-year-old's body near the fuselage, which is also where the man's body was recovered late Tuesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will get involved with the investigation once the plane is recovered, said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.

"They would investigate why the plane crash happened and how they can prevent it from happening again," Cory said. "They reconstruct the entire plane to determine what happened."

U.S. Coast Guard officials were also searching for an overdue pleasure boat in a separate incident.