2 people killed in single-engine plane crash in Centre County

Plane crashes on Sandy Ridge

Multiple emergency crews responded to a small plane that crashed May 1, 2019 in the area of Sandy Ridge.
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Multiple emergency crews responded to a small plane that crashed May 1, 2019 in the area of Sandy Ridge.

Two people were killed in a single-engine plane crash Wednesday in Centre County, the coroner’s office confirmed. The aircraft, a Cessna C172, crashed into the side of Sandy Ridge Mountain in Rush Township around 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA said the plane took off from University Park Airport and was headed to Burlington International Airport in Vermont.

The plane, owned by State-College-based flying club Psyfliers, was a fixed-wing, single-engine plane with four seats, according to FlightAware.com. The website also has the plane taking off from University Park Airport at 12:41 p.m. but shows its destination was Butler County Airport.

The two victims were pronounced dead at the scene, the coroner’s office said, and their identities are not known at this time. Autopsies are scheduled for Thursday evening.

Daniel Christine Jr. said his parents, Kay and Daniel Christine Sr., were the ones who heard the plane crash from their home on Mountain Road and called 911.

“My parents heard a plane that sounded like it was having issues, then heard it crash into the mountain with a loud bang,” he said.

Because of the heavy fog that afternoon, Christine Jr. said his parents mostly heard, rather than saw the crash.

“It sounded like the fuel tank exploded,” Christine Jr. said.

Christine Jr. and his father then helped lead state troopers up the dirt road about a half-mile to the crash site, where he said they could see flames and debris.

Emergency crews had a difficult time locating the crash, Mountain Top Fire Chief Tim Sharpless said, as the fog kept the state police helicopter and Bureau of Forestry’s fire planes grounded and unable to provide aerial assistance. Being in a remote and wooded area, finding access to the site was also difficult, he said.

It took about an hour until somebody was able to get on scene with the plane, Sharpless said. He said he was told the plane had broken apart, and debris was scattered on scene.

Crews worked at the scene from about 1 p.m. until 9:45 p.m., Sharpless said. With restricted access to the site, Sharpless said firefighters helped shuttle people back and forth using all-terrain vehicles.

Mountain Top Fire Company assumed command, while Columbia, Bald Eagle, Neptune, Philipsburg and Port Matilda also responded, along with Mountain Top EMS, Moshannon Valley EMS, Centre County Emergency Management, the Centre County Coroner’s Office, the state game commission and state police.

State police said the investigation has been handed over to the FAA. The National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the crash, the FAA said.