USA — A small jet airplane crashed in a wooded areaTuesday afternoon near Wiley Post Airport in northwest Oklahoma City, killing atleast three people, the wife of one of the victims confirmed.
Valrie Pool told the Oklahoman her husband, Frank M. Pool Jr., and two otherUnited Engines of Oklahoma City executives were killed when the Minnesota-boundCessna 500 went down shortly after takeoff.
Valrie Pool said besides her 60-year-old husband, who was executive vicepresident of the firm, company president Garth Bates and another businessassociate of Pool’s were on board.
“He was an honest, smart, really intelligent person,” Valrie Poolsaid of her husband of 26 years.
She said her husband, Bates and other associates bought the company in 2001.
“They were great business partners and great friends,” she said.”They were really well-liked by the people at United Engines.”
The plane crashed and burned about 3:15 p.m. News video from the scene showedthe smoldering wreckage, as well as small grass fires near the site.
Roland Herwig, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said thetwin-engine aircraft was traveling from Oklahoma City to Mankato when it wentdown about five miles southwest of the airport. Herwig said preliminaryindications were that at least one person was on board.
Valrie Pool said her husband and his associates were going to Minnesota on abusiness trip.
Kevin Rowland, chief investigator for the Office ofthe Medical Examiner, said his office had been told five people may have been onboard the plane but he couldn’t confirm if that was the case.
“We have not begun the recovery of bodies tonight due to darkness, dueto scene conditions and the fact we had fire involved,” Rowland said.
The National Transportation Safety Board was en route to the site and planneda news conference for Wednesday afternoon, Bridget Serchak, the public affairsofficer for the NTSB in Washington, said.
The Oklahoma City Fire Department received a call about 3:19 p.m. of a planethat went down just south of N.W. 10th Street, Deputy Fire Chief Cecil Clay said.
“One witness said he saw part of the plane fall off that started a grassfire. When we got there, it was destroyed, almost unrecognizable,” Claysaid.
“We had to use fire extinguishers because there were magnesium parts onthe plane, at least it looked like to us. If you put water on a magnesium fire,it just intensifies it.”
He said there were no survivors but added he had no information on how manymay have been on board.
“We pretty much just backed out and secured the area,” Clay said.”We’re waiting for the NTSB to arrive.”
Greg Horton, a witness who was fishing in Lake Overholser, near the airport,told Oklahoma City television station KWTV that he saw the airplane crash andsaw a fireball.
Horton said he saw a flock of birds in the area about the time of the crashand thought this caused the accident.
“He flew right through a flock of birds,” Horton said. “A bird,after it sucked through, we heard it, a dead bird was floating and it landedright in the lake.”
“He was trying to recover, and just took a nosedive right over here. Isaw the fireball and everything.”
The aircraft was registered to Southwest Orthopedic Sports Medicine Clinic inOklahoma City.
Wayne Allison, the office manager at the clinic, said he believed no one fromthe clinic was on the plane and that Dr. Anthony Cruse, who generally uses theaircraft, was in surgery Tuesday.
“We don’t know if it was a maintenance run … or what it was,”Allison said.
The business jet was built in 1975 and seats eight, according to FAA records.