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Hermitage man dies in copter crash



Published: Mon, July 30, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



\TITUSVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- A man killed in an ultralight gyrocopter crash at Titusville Airport died of severe head and blunt force body injuries.

Venango County Coroner John Greggs identified the man Sunday as 64-year-old Thurman Wagner of Hermitage, Mercer County.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash, which occurred about 12:20 p.m. Saturday at the airport about 41 miles southeast of Erie. Titusville police said Wagner was killed immediately.

There were about10 people on the ground, including Wagner's son and brother, who thought the craft was landing when it nose dived into the runway and rolled into a field, said Patrolman Claude Lumley of the Titusville police.

Witnesses told police Wagner had built the ultralight gyrocopter and this was its first flight. Wagner had taxied up and down the runway several times before the gyrocopter made it off the ground and went up about 200 feet before crashing, Lumley said.

Wagner was a member of a rotocraft flying association that regularly uses the Titusville Airport, police said.

Greggs said toxicology tests on Wagner's body will take another week or so to complete. The coroner said Sunday he hopes the tests will help him determine if Wagner suffered a heart attack or another health problem that may have caused the crash because so far, authorities can't explain it.




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