Updated 12/22/10 9:46 p.m.
WHEELING, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – One person was killed and another injured Wednesday afternoon when a small single-engine airplane took off from a northwest suburban airport, then crashed in a nearby parking lot while trying to return for a reported engine problem, officials said.
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The small, single-engine Beachcraft airplane took off from runway 34 at Chicago Executive Airport, according to FAA officials. The pilot was about 1/2 mile away from the runway when he reported a rough-running engine and requested to return.
The plane did turn back, but it crashed in a nearby parking lot before returning to the runway, according to the FAA.
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Chicago Executive Airport spokesman Michael Stanard said the plane crashed north of the airport at Wolf and Hintz roads just before 3 p.m. He said it did not happen on airport property.
Two people were aboard the plane, FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said. One was killed and the other hospitalized, he said. He did not have information on their identities.
Wheeling Fire Chief Keith MacIsaac said the injured person was conscious and alert with serious burns and apparent multiple fractures, and he was flown by Flight for Life to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
The plane hit the ground with so much force, the tail section jutting up from the snow was almost all that was left.
The tail number of the plane was N5293M, according to Molinaro.
The plane was registered to Ronald Kesinger from Jacksonville, Ill., according to Stanard and FAA records. Molinaro noted that the person it is registered to wouldn’t necessarily have been who was on the plane at the time of the crash.
Firefighters say several people called 911 when the plane hit the roof of the warehouse and building taking a gas line with it.
It crushed one car and left a second one mangled.
“I saw that there was another person in the plane, but the flames were too hot,” said witness Rick Swearingen.
Jeff Patton, who works in shipping and receiving for Accellent Inc. at 140 E. Hintz Road, was in a truck outside the business when he heard a loud pop and then turned to see flames rising.
“I couldn’t tell what it was. The flames were so high, and it was so brightly burning,” Patton said.
Patton went into the Accellent building and told employees to evacuate the building.
“We saw the wings of the plane and two cars burning,” Patton said.
He said a couple of people moved their cars to keep the fire from spreading to them.
Martin Seay, executive secretary for the village of Wheeling, said after the plane turned around to return to the airport, it clipped a manufacturing building on Acco Plaza Drive, on the northwest corner of Hintz and Wolf roads, and crashed into the parking lot.
MacIsaac said the roof of the building sustained only minor impact damage.
The fire chief added that the airport plans to release more information to the media Thursday.
“Our prayers are with the survivor and with the family of the victims,” said Swearingen.
Crews spent several minutes getting the wreckage onto flat bed trucks so they could take it to a secure location.
The NTSB will then be able to take a closer look at it and piece together how the crash happened.
CBS 2’s Pamela Jones, Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller, and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.