Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Barron County, Wisconsin: Honor first responders

It was in May when a deadly tornado and fatal plane crash shook the Barron County community. Rescue workers worked long difficult hours to help as many people as possible.

Monday in Rice Lake, the selfless workers that helped the community to when tragedy struck were honored. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald presented 20  lifesaver, and 11 tornado awards to various individuals, utilities companies, and first responders involved in aiding the community during these tragedies. One of the the honorees is a Life Link pilot who arrived in his helicopter to receive his award.

“It's just our job it's what we do day to day, and it's special that I get to meet with all the other agencies and the people who were there,” said Life Link pilot Robert Spenle.

Sheriff Fitzgerald said four local men who were out fishing played a vital role after the plane crash. Tonight they also received life saver awards. At the ceremony the sheriff proclaimed each May in Barron County to be 'First Responder Month'.

"We are Barron County proud. We are community that comes together when things happen, both good and bad, and I think everybody's looking for a little good, and that's what tonight was, to help families bring closure. Thank everybody for coming out, and that's  what is was tonight, it was just a thanks," said Sheriff Fitzgerald.

Community members say that they will never forget the generosity of all those who sacrifice their time to help the community, especially in a time of crisis.

Watch video:   http://www.wqow.com

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Knutson Family Limited Partnership: http://registry.faa.gov/N35132

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA196

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 24, 2017 in Chetek, WI
Aircraft: PIPER J3C, registration: N35132
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. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 24, 2017, about 1830 central daylight time, a Piper J3C 65 airplane, N35132, crashed into a river 3.5 miles southwest of Chetek, Wisconsin. The private pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight plan had been filed for the flight. The local flight departed a private airstrip near Chetek, Wisconsin, about 1800. 

According to several witnesses in the area, the airplane flew over the witnesses who were fishing on a pond near the river. One witness remarked that the door of the airplane was open and the two occupants were waving at them. The airplane continued to the north and then started a turn to the right. Both witnesses stated that they heard a "pop" noise from the engine which they characterized as a backfire. One witness stated that the engine was at a lower rpm as the airplane flew over him. After the "pop" the airplane descended below the tree line and the witnesses heard the crash.

The airplane wreckage was located in the Red Cedar River. The wreckage included both wings, the empennage, fuselage, and the engine and propeller assembly.

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