Apr 18

Former Kansas lawmaker dies in ultralight plane crash


A former Kansas lawmaker who crashed a plane into a Marion County pond has died from his injuries.

The plane went down in a pond on 170th Rd., about a half-mile west of Indigo, and two miles south of Hillsboro, around 1:45 p.m. Friday.

Troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol said the plane was an ultralight aircraft. Investigators said the pilot ran into a tree branch, then fell to the ground near a pond and flipped upside down into the water.The pilot was unconscious when emergency crews arrived at the scene. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died from his injuries, troopers said.

The pilot has been identified as Donald Dahl, 69, of Hillsboro, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. Dahl was a former Kansas state representative, who served the 70th district from 1996 until 2008. The Republican leader was speaker pro tem in 2007 and 2008.

“He had a proud legacy of public service. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he served the people of Kansas as a representative for six terms.”

- Gov. Sam Brownback

Gov. Sam Brownback appointed Dahl to the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission in December. 

Brownback said he was saddened to hear of Dahl’s passing.

“He had a proud legacy of public service,” Brownback said in a statement. “A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he served the people of Kansas as a representative for six terms. The Lt. Governor and I extend our personal sympathy to his family and friends.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has been called to help investigate the cause of the crash.

Apr 18

Ohio Couple Killed in West Virginia Plane Crash During Severe Thunderstorms

The plane that crashed was a Piper PA-32 like this one. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Officials say a married couple from Ohio died after their plane crashed in West Virginia on Friday. The Charleston Gazette reports that the pilot of the Piper PA-32 had reportedly asked for help navigating around bad weather.

The small plane was on its way from Akron, Ohio, to Spartanburg, S.C., when it crashed about 5 p.m. Friday near Riverside in eastern Kanawha County.

“Overcast skies and thunderstorms were reported in the area near the time of the crash,” said weather.com meteorologist Chrissy Warrilow. “In addition, gusty winds reached as high as 30 mph at times on Friday afternoon.”

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Media outlets report that the National Transportation Safety Board on Saturday identified those killed as 50-year-old Lazarus Sommers and his 56-year-old wife, Maryann Sommers. The couple was from Millersburg, Ohio. The plane took off from the Akron Fulton International Airport and was headed to Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport in South Carolina, WCHS Charleston/Huntington reports. .

The newspaper said that West Virginia State Police responding to the crash needed about two hours to find the site with a helicopter.

MORE ON WEATHER.COM: The Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

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In this photo taken from the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2-Orion aircraft, a spotter looks out of a window in search of debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of western Australia on Sunday, April 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Greg Wood, Pool)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Apr 18

Plane crash drills for JFRD


If you saw a large plume of smoke or heard emergency sirens near Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Thursday morning, rest easy. It was all part of a planned simulated plane crash exercise.

The safety drill isn’t anything new to NAS Jax, which frequently does these types of exercises to be prepared in case a real-life situation should occur.

It was just a drill Thursday, but an event like it actually happened in 2005 at Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park across the street — the same park where Thursday’s exercise was held. Then, a pilot and co-pilot were killed after their plane crashed in the park.

Air crewmen from VP-45 squadron, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Jacksonville Fire-Rescue practiced a simulated plane crash.

“What it does, it allows them to put hands on with the other firefighters from JFRD, two fantastic teams working as one,” said Mark Russo, fire chief of First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services.

“Accidents know no boundaries, and so if an accident occurs on base or off, it’s important for both departments to work together in a unified fashion,” JFRD Fire Chief Martin Senterfitt said.

Crews used smoke and mannequins to make it look like there was a real fire on the plane, with real victims. It gave personnel the opportunity to enhance their skills and readiness.

It also allowed them the opportunity to work through various scenarios and assess procedures for reporting, fighting and recovering from a plane crash.

Rescue units from entry level to the most senior members were involved to practice their role in case of emergency.

“When a real-world event does take place, they aren’t learning from that event. They have already done that training and their reaction is much better,” said Jim Butters, installation training officer at NAS Jax.

The base does a plane crash exercise every year, but this is the first time it has also worked with JFRD.

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