Two teenagers from Mexico were among the seven people killed when two small planes crashed separately within hours of one another in western Wisconsin and southwestern Minnesota, authorities said Tuesday.
A fixed-wing plane carrying three people crashed in a cornfield in southwestern Minnesota on Monday night, according to the Pipestone County Sheriff's Department. The pilot, Steven Christensen, 59, of rural Pipestone, and passengers Marcos Favela, 18, of Torreon, Mexico and an unidentified girl, 13, of Guadalajara, Mexico, died when the aircraft went down near Pipestone about 8 p.m., sheriff's officials said.
Travis Jasper said he and his construction crew were finishing work for the day near the crash site when he heard what sounded like a plane in trouble.
"(I) heard it spitting and sputtering. It fired up a couple times and then I thought I heard a car door slam." Jasper told KSFY-TV. "A couple minutes later I seen the neighbor at the corner and he's like, I think a plane just went down, and I said yah, I think the same thing."
Jasper said he and his crew jumped on top of their vehicle to try to spot the plane in the cornfield.
In Wisconsin, four people died when a single-engine Beechcraft crashed and caught fire in a field near Amery, Wisconsin, about 50 miles northeast of Minneapolis, about 5:30 p.m. Monday, Polk County sheriff's officials said. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, which scorched the surrounding field, and found the victims inside.
Karen Olson said the plane crashed on her property about 200 yards from her home.
"I thought it was a helicopter flying overhead," Olson said. Her property is in the flight path for medical helicopters flying to the nearby Amery Regional Medical Center, she explained. Then she heard her neighbor pounding on her door.
"He just said, there's an airplane that went down in your field and the field is on fire," Olson said. "All I could see was smoke."
Authorities haven't yet said where the planes might have been flying or the location of their departures. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have launched investigations.
"We'll document the scene, examine the wreckage of the aircraft and later move it to a secure facility," NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said of the Wisconsin crash.
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