Officials Go to Missouri Site Where 13 Died in
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: October 21, 2004
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - A twin-engine turboprop airliner crashed Tuesday
night near the airport in Kirksville, Mo., killing 13 of 15 people on
board. Federal investigators said Wednesday evening that the plane's two
"black boxes" had good recordings and that they were optimistic that
they would find the cause of the crash.
Two passengers survived and 11 died, along with both pilots, said Carol
Carmody, the member of the National Transportation Safety Board sent to
the scene, which is about 220 miles northwest of St. Louis, where the
The plane, flown by Corporate Airlines, a commuter affiliate of American
Airlines, crashed shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday in low overcast and
drizzle. Asked about the weather, Ms. Carmody said, "I certainly
wouldn't call it severe."
Air traffic controllers had authorized the plane, a Jetstream 32, to
descend to 3,000 feet from 15,000. There was no distress call, according
to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but the plane had been
scheduled to have a better warning system installed in the next few
months to alert pilots if they were flying too low. The plane appeared
to be on a path to the 6,000-foot runway at Kirksville's airport when it
hit trees, severing one wing. Most of the rest of the wreckage was about
100 feet farther on, in a fairly compact area, Ms. Carmody said.
Investigators have found the aircraft's two black boxes and shipped them
to a laboratory here where they will undergo analysis.
Several of the dead and both of the survivors had been on their way to a
workshop at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. "Almost
everybody on the plane were doctors, except for the pilots,'' Ms.
Among those on the plane was Dr. Steve Z. Miller, the director of
pediatric emergency medicine at Columbia University College of
Physicians and Surgeons, according to university officials. Two
colleagues said that he was among the dead. Dr. Richard Sarkin, 54, an
associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Buffalo,
was also on the plane, according to a university spokesman who said that
Dr. Sarkin had not been confirmed dead but that dental records had been
A female passenger was found walking around, and a male passenger was
lying in brush about 25 feet from the plane, said Chief Deputy Larry
Logston of Adair County. The bodies of the dead were found in the
When emergency workers reached the crash scene, the fuselage was in
flames and the wings and tail were severed, Deputy Logston said.
Philip Slocum, vice president for medical affairs and dean at the
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, said the crash had left the
campus shaken. "We're a very close-knit family, so a lot of these
students knew the people,'' he said. "One of my freshmen came up and
gave me a big hug, and I've been up all night, so it kind of broke down
my defenses a little bit. It's a very emotional time. These are our
brothers and sisters we lost.''
Investigators from Britain, the airplane's country of manufacture, were
called to join the investigation, along with the propeller maker and
The plane that crashed, American Connection 5966, was a Jetstream 32,
which carries a cockpit crew of two and up to 19 passengers, with two
seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other. The plane was one
of 17 operated by Corporate Airlines, based in Smyrna, Tenn.
Corporate Airlines serves 11 destinations from its St. Louis hub, and
two more from Nashville, flying as far as Atlanta and eastern Tennessee.
Its planes carry the name American Connection, and its schedules are
coordinated with American Airlines'. Corporate Airlines began operating
in December 1996. The plane that crashed was built in 1990.
The safety board usually takes about a year to establish the cause of
such crashes. But one issue for investigators in the Kirksville crash
could be the type of system on the plane to warn of flying into the
Gretchen Ruethling contributed reporting from Chicago for this article.