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UPDATED: 10/3/2012 – 9:16 p.m.
GARY, Ind. (CBS) – Two people were killed when a small airplane went down in a wooded area in Gary, Ind., late Wednesday morning.
The Lake County (Ind.) Coroner’s office said the plane’s pilot and a passenger, both males, died in the crash. There identities were not immediately released.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports the plane went down around 11:20 a.m. near 7th Street and Clark Road, about a mile from the Gary/Chicago International Airport, right after the plane was supposed to have landed.
“The Gary jet center did, in fact, expect the aircraft to land. The expected time was 11:19, but they never received any distress signal,” Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.
Instead of landing, the plane crashed about 400 yards from a charter school with more than 600 students. So, as bad as it was, Freeman-Wilson said it could have been much worse.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody Reports
Ebony Tillman told WBBM Newsradio that several parents rushed to the nearby Lighthouse Charter School to ensure the safety of their children.
Tillman said the school had been locked down, the children gathered into the gym for safety until the situation was resolved.
The single-engine Cirrus SR22 was flying from Smyrna, Tenn. when it crashed.
Gary resident Carol Frazier said, “I heard a big boom noise, and then I heard a lot of sirens.”
Simone Robertson said, “I just heard a big boom, like thunder almost. You wouldn’t think that it was a plane crash until you seen the smoke and the flames just go up.”
Police arrived in minutes.
Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram said, “My officers immediately responded to that scene, and tried to rescue whatever people they could rescue.”
But there would be no rescues.
Firefighter Don Parker said, “We saw heavy smoke and flames” when they arrived at the crash site, but they didn’t see much of the plane, which was in pieces and spread across a 40-foot area.
Gary officials said the pilot and passenger had been thrown from the wreckage.
“Some graphic scenes. I don’t really want to say in detail what the bodies looked like, but there were two burned up bodies,” Parker said.
A rescue worker suffered chest pain responding to the crash. The condition of the worker is not known.