Plane wreck raised; probe continues in Kelleys Island crash

KELLEYS ISLAND Construction crews worked Wednesday to remove the wreckage of a plane that crashed Mo
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

KELLEYS ISLAND

Construction crews worked Wednesday to remove the wreckage of a plane that crashed Monday night, killing two of the three people on board.

The Sandusky post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol has taken over the preliminary investigation from the U.S. Coast Guard, which recovered the bodies of Jeff Hutchison, 46, and his 9-year-old son, Jeremy David Hutchison, both of Lima.

Another son, Joel Hutchison, 7, was rescued from the crash site by a Kelleys Island resident and remained in fair condition Wednesday at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo.

A construction company was hired to bring up the plane, which crashed east of Kelleys Island Municipal Airport, where the plane took off about 9:10 p.m. Monday.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will get involved in the investigation after the plane is recovered, Mamere said.

The Coast Guard ended the search and rescue effort after Jeff Hutchison's body was recovered late Tuesday, Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier said.

"The boy indicated there were only two people -- the brother and father," Lanier said. "We had no reason to believe there was any more people on the plane."

The FAA investigation could take up to six months to complete, Mamere said.

Jeff Hutchison received his license on Sept. 26, 2006, according to FAA records.

"He had had his license not quite a year yet," said Lt. Greg Greggila of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. "He's a relatively new pilot."

"From past experience, a majority of these kinds of crashes are pilot errors, not something mechanical," Greggila said. "I'm not saying that's the case here. But it's rare that something goes wrong with the plane. We'll certainly look into everything we can to determine if there was anything wrong with the aircraft."

Sandusky pilot Tom Griffing also said the plane crash could have been operator error.

"When you take off headed east off Kelleys -- which is what he did -- there are no lights, no visual reference," Griffing said. "He was probably trying to maintain his course by looking out the window. He probably did not transition to using his instruments fast enough."

Troopers said no emergency calls were heard by nearby airports.

Kelleys Island Municipal Airport is unmanned, and Griffing Flying Service in Sandusky was likely out of range of the call, if there was one, Mamere said.

Griffing, who owns Griffing Flying Service, is familiar with the 1960s era Cessna 172C that Jeff Hutchison flew.

"It is such a mundane airplane," Griffing said. "There's nothing dangerous about it. It's like a station wagon."

Griffing said it takes 15 hours to learn how to fly a Cessna and about 60 hours to get a private pilot's license.

"A 172 is probably the most widely used primary training plane because it's very simple to fly," Griffing said. "It's very straightforward."

The Lucas County Coroner's office is performing an autopsy on Jeff and Jeremy David Hutchison to determine the cause of death. The autopsy report could take up to 10 weeks to complete.

--Heather Rutz from The Lima News contributed to this story.