What a coincidence, isn’t it? Five people who were killed when a small plane crashed soon after takeoff near Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas were a group of environmental consultants.
All of the deceased worked at The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, and they were traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to respond to a recent deadly explosion at a metal manufacturing plant in Bedford.
The twin-engine plane they were traveling in went down around noon Wednesday near a factory within a mile of the airport.
Everyone on the plane, including the pilot, worked at CTEH. The company specializes in environmental data collection and incident management – especially in terms of industrial hygiene and toxicology.
Multiple law enforcement agencies were on the scene investigating the wreck, with local reports indicating there were high winds and thunderstorms in the area at the time of the crash.
Dr. Paul Nony, senior vice president of CTEH, confirmed that the five deceased worked at the company. They were heading to investigate I. Schumann & Co’s recent explosion – in which the brass and bronze alloys firm burst into flames, leaving molten metal raining down on the surrounding area, and killing one staff member.
Dr Nony told DailyMail.com: ‘We are incredibly saddened to report the loss of our Little Rock colleagues. We ask everyone to keep the families of those lost and the entire CTEH team in their thoughts and prayers.’
Lt. Cody Burk, spokesperson for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, said there were ‘no survivors’ after the plane crash. The FAA is currently responding and investigating the cause of the incident.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a twin propeller-engine Beech BE20, which was bound for Columbus International Airport in Ohio when it went down shortly after takeoff.
A large plume of white smoke could be seen rising from the crash site, which was reportedly outside a 3M Co factory plant.
It is currently unclear what caused the plane to crash that killed the five colleagues.
Authorities noted that the weather in the area had been severe, which was hampering their immediate investigations into the wreck.
According to Arkansas Storm Team meteorologist Pat Walker, weather around the airport had seen significant wind gusts around the time of the crash.
The National Weather Service said a line of thunderstorms had been moving through the area, including wind gusts of 40 miles per hour. The Pulaski Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating if weather was a factor in the incident.
Witness Dennis Gordon told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he was standing nearby when he heard a large explosion after strong winds blew into the area.
He said the initial explosion was followed by several other smaller explosions, leading to a fire and a large plume of smoke.
‘It was just red, then it starts turning black, and there’s this burnt smell,’ Gordon said.
The witness added that a large amount of smoke filled the sky following the crash, with fire crews quickly on the scene to extinguish the fire.
The Little Rock Police Department have confirmed that the investigation into the crash will be handled by Pulaski County.
The Little Rock Fire Department, the FAA and several other federal and state agencies were also on the scene.
The National Transportation Safety Board is also reportedly set to arrive at the crash site late Wednesday afternoon, as authorities continue to look into what caused the tragedy.
Explosion in Bedford, Ohio
One person died and at least 13 people were injured following a large explosion at the metal manufacturing plant in Bedford, Ohio.
Ambulances were pictured on the scene of I. Schumann & Co., which makes brass and bronze alloys. It’s unclear what caused the explosion, which happened around 2.15pm Monday.
One person was originally listed in critical condition but just after 8.30pm, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed one person died from their injuries.
The victim has been identified as Steve Mullins, 46, a maintenance worker at I Schumann and Co.
The explosion in Bedford, Ohio is located just about 70 miles northwest of East Palestine, where a toxic train derailed on February 3. It is just south of Cleveland.
The blast sent smoke billowing into the sky that could be seen for miles around the damaged factory.
All of those injured were on site, the falling debris having spared those at neighboring businesses, Oakwood Fire Department Captain Brian DiRocco said.
What a coincidence, isn’t it? [DM]
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