3 killed in medical plane crash in Chicago suburb

AP News
Posted: Nov 29, 2011 3:20 PM
3 killed in medical plane crash in Chicago suburb

A medical transport plane crashed in suburban Chicago, killing three of the five people on board, including the patient being brought to Illinois, authorities said Tuesday.

The small plane went down just before 11 p.m. Monday in Riverwoods, about 25 miles northwest of Chicago, just a few miles from its destination at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling.

The plane, owned by Trans North Aviation, was carrying patient John Bialek, 80, of Streamwood and his 75-year-old wife, Ilomae Bialek, as well as a flight paramedic and two pilots, according to Ron Schaberg, the aviation company's president.

Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey identified the third victim as William Didier, 58, of Cedar Grove, Wis. Didier is believed to have been the pilot, based on his position in the plane and identification found with him, Yancey said.

The plane had just passed a safety inspection and the crash was the first in the company's 33-year history, Schaberg said.

Didier's wife, Connie Didier, said her husband took his first solo flight at 16 and had been a pilot for more than 30 years.

"He's very thorough," she said. "Sometimes, he was obnoxiously thorough."

The pilot told air traffic controllers that the plane, which had taken off from Georgia, was having a fuel problem before it crashed, according to Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Nobody on the ground was injured when the plane came down in a wooded area between homes. Resident John McGuire said he heard what he initially thought was a strong storm.

"It sounded like a wind shear, a lot of debris hitting the house," he said.

The Bialeks died in the crash, as did the patient, whose name was withheld pending notification of relatives. The two other people on board the plane were expected to survive, authorities said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation, Cory said.