Small Plane Crash Near Cuyahoga County Airport Kills Four; NTSB to Investigate

Emergency crews take stock of the wreckage of a small plane outside the Cuyahoga County airport. (Nick Castele)
Emergency crews take stock of the wreckage of a small plane outside the Cuyahoga County airport. (Nick Castele)

Update: The Ohio State Highway Patrol identified the pilot as William Michael Felten, 20, of Michigan. The highway patrol named the passengers as Lucas Vincent Marcelli, 20, of Massillon; Abraham Pishevar, 18, of Maryland; and John Hill, 18, of Georgia.

The plane was a 1999 Cessna Model 172R and crashed just after takeoff around 10 p.m. last night, according to a release from the highway patrol.

The four were undergraduates at Case Western Reserve University, according to an online post by university president Barbara Snyder.

"We have notified the parents of the young people involved, and representatives from University Counseling are working closely with their roommates and close friends," Snyder wrote.

Original story:

Mark Gerald, who lives down the street from the airport, says he was on his porch and heard an engine sputtering just before the crash. Gerald says then he saw the airplane being engulfed in flames.

"I got up off my porch and started walking to the street. And the second I put my food down, boom," Gerald said. "I ran out to the road….had a little bit of flames, I ran towards it. By the time I got up right by the bridge, boom, tank went. I got within 20 feet -- too hot. There was nothing I could do. Nothing."

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Brant Zemelka says he responded to a call late last night to see the fire department already on the scene.

"Still not for sure if it was taking off or trying to land back down. Still investigating that," Zemelka said. "Right now we do have four confirmed killed in a crash. No names or nothing, we're still trying to figure out who was actually flying...who was all the passengers in the plane."

Authorities are still probing just what caused this crash. Zemelka with the highway patrol says the federal agency tasked with investigating plane crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board, is expected to be in Northeast Ohio later this afternoon.

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