Executive, 2 others die in Michigan plane crash

MONROE, Mich. (AP) — The pilot of a small plane that crashed into a city park in southern Michigan, killing him and two others on board, was the owner of an auto-parts manufacturing business and had been licensed to fly for years, his brother said.

Randy Howell said Rick Howell was an experienced pilot.

Witnesses told authorities the Piper Malibu Mirage was heading south and skirted some trees Tuesday afternoon before smashing into a soccer field at Munson Park in Monroe, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit and just north of the Ohio state line.

The plane took off from an airport in Bedford County, Pa., about 2:26 p.m. and was due to arrive at Custer Airport about 4 p.m., according to FlightAware.com, an online tracking service.

The plane is registered to Triple F Aviation LLC, which has the same address as the LaSalle, Mich., residence belonging to Rick Howell and his wife.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said Wednesday that her agency was working with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is heading the investigation into the crash.

Rick Howell was the owner of Toledo-based Conforming Matrix Corp., and the other two victims of the crash were employees, the Blade reported.

Motorists driving nearby said they watched in horror as the plane flew low over the trees and crashed.

Rosemarie Braun stopped her car and ran to the burning wreckage.

“We yelled out ‘Hello! Hello! Hello!”’ Braun told The Monroe Evening News. “But I didn’t hear anything.”

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