Kelleys plane crash report lagging

KELLEYS ISLAND The investigation into what caused the plane crash off Kelleys Island that killed a f
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

KELLEYS ISLAND

The investigation into what caused the plane crash off Kelleys Island that killed a father and son is taking longer than expected.

An aviation accident report typically takes about five to six months to complete, but the Sept. 3 plane crash will take longer than that, said Pam Sullivan, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator working on the case.

"I haven't even started writing it," Sullivan said. Five to six months is "what we shoot for, but it's not going to happen in this case because of my work load."

NTSB handles about 1,800 aviation accidents each year while investigators work on about 10-12 cases at a time, NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz said.

Lopatkiewicz said it is not unusual for investigations to take up to a year to complete.

The first report, which won't be available until at least spring, is a long narrative, explaining the events surrounding the crash.

Sullivan said the report focuses on "the man, the machine and the environment."

"It's everything we know about the accident, what led up to it and what occurred," she said. The report is also used to help the board complete a final report or make recommendations to prevent similar accidents from occurring.

A preliminary report -- available online at ntsb.gov -- said that the plane, a Cessna 172C, crashed a quarter mile off the east end of Kelleys Island.

The pilot, Jeff Hutchison, of Lima, was "operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan," the report shows.

Sullivan said a flight plan is not always necessary, depending on the situation.

The final report will determine the actual cause of the crash and could be ready a month after the initial report is completed.

Jeff Hutchison, 46, and his 9-year-old son, Jeremy David Hutchison, drowned after the plane crashed. Jeff Hutchison's 7-year-old son, Joel Hutchison, survived the crash and swam to shore.

Chuck Herndon, a Kelleys Island native who saw the crash, rowed out to where the plane crashed and plucked Joel out of the water and shuttled him to safety.

Herndon later received the Public Service Commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard for his heroic actions.