Plane crash that killed 6 still under investigation

FREMONT Yellow police tape and a memorial were the only signs Tuesday of a fatal plane crash that ki
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

 

FREMONT

Yellow police tape and a memorial were the only signs Tuesday of a fatal plane crash that killed six people, including a former state legislator.

The wreckage of the Cessna 68 single-engine aircraft was moved to Madison Motor Services in Fremont to continue the investigation, said Sgt. Brett Gockstetter, of the Fremont post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Witnesses said the plane stalled, but investigators still do not know what caused the Sunday afternoon crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were taking the engine apart and looking at the wreckage to see if mechanical failure was an issue, Gockstetter said.

NTSB investigator Mitch Gallo was not available for comment Tuesday.

Former state legislator and pilot Gene Damschroder, 86, died in the crash along with Bill Ansted, 62, Bill's 23-year-old daughter Allison Ansted, of Lindsey, and her fiance Matt Clearman of Maumee.

Also killed were mother and daughter Danielle Gerwin, 31, and Emily Gerwin, 4.

One autopsy was completed today while the others are ongoing, Sandusky County coroner Dr. John Wukie said.

"Blunt force injuries from the crash site is likely to be the cause of death on all of them," Wukie said. "I'm certain alcohol was not involved at all."

Wukie will not know for certain whether alcohol was a contributing factor until a toxicology report is completed on Damschroder and Bill Ansted. It is not clear how long the report could take.

Questions have circulated in regards to Damschroder's age and his ability to pilot the aircraft.

Damschroder was a certified flight instructor and licensed to fly both single- and multi-engine planes, according to wire reports.

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Croy said the government organization will issue a license regardless of age; however, the pilot must pass a proficiency test and medical exam.

After the age of 40, pilots are required to take both tests every two years.

During the medical exam, pilots are evaluated for heart conditions, eyesight and physical mobility and current medications are reviewed.

"There are pilots of all ages. Again, it's looking at the individual to see their fitness level for flight," Croy said. "You want to look at everything to make sure this person is safe to fly."

In 2007, less than 1 percent of licensed pilots were older than 80 years old -- 4,314 out of 590,349 pilots nationwide, according to FAA records.

A preliminary report detailing the crash could be available at the end of this week. A final report could take a year to complete.