Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Bellanca 7GCBC Citabria, N5542K: Coroner identifies Montana man killed in plane crash

BILLINGS - A Montana man is dead and another man is in the intensive care unit after a plane crash in rural northeastern Montana.

Richland County Coroner Marv Johnson identifies the deceased as James Steppler, 55, of northwestern Richland County. Johnson says Steppler died of blunt force trauma injuries he sustained in the plane crash. Johnson says it appears Steppler died upon impact.

According to Richland County Sheriff Brad Baisch, another person was injured in the crash. Coroner Johnson says the man was airlifted to Billings for medical treatment. Sources tell Q2 the injured man is Verlin Steppler, the nephew of James Steppler. Verlin Steppler is currently in the intensive care unit at St. Vincent Healthcare.

Emergency responders were called to a plane crash at about 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, southwest of Culbertson in Richland County. The crash occurred near County Rd. 324 near a shelter belt, which is a row of trees planted to protect a shelter. The National Transportation Safety Board says the crash involved a single-engine fixed wing Bellanca plane.

Two investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are en route to the scene. 

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA123
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 05, 2012 in Brockton, MT
Aircraft: BELLANCA 7GCBC, registration: N5542K
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On March 5, 2012, about 1556 mountain standard time, a Bellanca 7GCBC, N5542K, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain about 12 miles southeast of Brockton, Montana. The private pilot was fatally injured and the one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 local personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Sidney-Richland Municipal Airport (SDY), Sidney, Montana, at an unknown time.

Witnesses located outside and near the accident site, reported that the accident airplane flew over their location from the north and made a 360 degree left turn, followed by a 180 degree left turn. The airplane then departed to the west and ascended. Shortly thereafter, the witnesses observed the airplane in a left turn and descending to ground impact. The airplane “belly flopped” and then continued through a series of trees before it came to rest about 70 yards from the initial impact point.

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