OWATONNA -- A ninth person thought to be on the jet that crashed and killed eight people while preparing to land in Owatonna wasn't on board.
Officials feared a ninth person may have been on board, but Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville says it was determined that wasn't the case.
The eight people aboard the Hawker 800 were killed Thursday morning when the plane went down at the airport 60 miles south of the Twin Cities.
Seven people were dead at the scene and one died later at a hospital.
Federal investigators will be spending Friday sifting through the wreckage of the Hawker.
Many of the crash victims were casino and construction executives.
Five of the victims have been identified. The pilots were Clark Keefer of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Dan D'Ambrosio of Hellertown, Pennsylvania..
Two of the identified victims were workers from APG International. They were Marc Rosenberg, Chief Operating Officer, of Margate City, New Jersey and Alan Barnett, assistant project manager, of Absecon, New Jersey..
One of the identified victims worked for Tishman Construction. 44 -year-old Karen Sandland of New Jersey was the Project Manager for Revel hotel-casino in Atlantic City..
Severe weather had been moving through southern Minnesota in the hours before the crash, but witnesses and the National Weather Service said the storms were subsiding and it wasn't immediately clear if they were a factor.
Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans told The Associated Press that those on board the flight from New Jersey included two high-ranking executives from Revel Entertainment, which is building a $2 billion hotel-casino project in Atlantic City, and several employees of Tishman Construction. He didn't know their identities, but said Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis was not on board. Tishman is helping with the Revel project, a company spokesman said.
Revel spokeswoman Lauren Avellino Turton confirmed in a written statement that several of the company's employees were killed aboard a plane that was chartered by Revel Entertainment.
"Revel is mourning the loss of several of its team members," the statement read. "The design team was heading to Minnesota for a glass manufacturing meeting."
She said the names of the dead would not be released until family members could be contacted, and did not say how many Revel employees were killed.
Owatonna is home to Viracon Inc., a glass manufacturing company that earlier this year was awarded a contract to supply glass to the World Trade Center replacement project.
Mary Ann Jackson, a spokeswoman for Viracon's parent company Apogee Enterprises Inc., confirmed to AP that the people on the plane were customers of Viracon but declined to provide any other details. She said no Viracon employees were involved in the crash.
The Dakota County coroner was on the scene working to identify victims. Tishman Construction identified one of them as Karen Sandland, 44, a project manager on the Revel casino-hotel project, who worked out of Tishman's Newark, N.J. office.
The charter jet, flying from from Atlantic City, N.J., to Owatonna, a town of 25,000, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport, scattering debris, Ringhofer said. The wreckage was not visible from the airport, and authorities blocked off nearby roadways.
Cameron Smith, a mechanic at the airport, said he spoke by radio with the jet's pilot just moments before the crash. The pilot was about to land and was asking where he should park for fuel, Smith said.
He went to the crash scene to see if anyone could be helped, but saw only a long skid path and debris that he described as "shredded." He also saw the body of one victim lying outside the debris.
"I was amazed to hear that someone survived," he said. "There was no fuselage. There were just parts."
Quinn Johnson, an assistant manager at a restaurant about three miles from the airport, didn't see the crash, but heard it. She initially thought it was a tornado.
"It lasted, I'm guessing, probably 15, 20 seconds, maybe slightly longer than that. It was a really, really loud, kind of a rumbling, screechy type noise," Johnson said.
Authorities were first called about 9:45 a.m. on a morning when severe weather had been moving through parts of southern Minnesota. An hour before the accident, a 72 mph wind gust was reported in Owatonna, according to the National Weather Service.
But Smith and Johnson said the crash happened after the worst of the storm had passed, with the sky clearing and only light rain. And the weather service reported that by 9:35 a.m., winds had quieted to 5 mph, with visibility greater than 10 miles in the Owatonna area, though there was a thunderstorm about five miles from the airport. Its observations are taken in 20-minute intervals, making the 9:35 a.m. readings the last before the crash.
The jet, built in 1990, was carrying two pilots. The plane had been scheduled to land at 9:42 a.m., then take off at 11:40 a.m. for Crossville, Tenn.
The airport lies alongside Interstate 35 as it skirts Owatonna's western edge. The airport's Web site describes it as "ideal for all classes of corporate aircraft use" with an all-weather instrument landing system. "Maintaining access to Owatonna's business community in all weather conditions is a priority," the site says.
Sharon Gordon, a spokeswoman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates Atlantic City International Airport, said the East Coast Jets plane landed at the airport at 7:10 a.m. from its base in Allentown, Pa.
It picked up several passengers, although there is confusion about how many actually got in the plane, she said.
|Liveleak on Facebook|