Victims identified in South Bend plane crash

Family in Oklahoma City confirms who died in plane crash.
Posted on March 18, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on March 18, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.

Staff and wire reports

SOUTH BEND — Federal investigators say a former University of Oklahoma quarterback and a Tulsa, Okla., businessman were the flight crew for the private jet that crashed into a South Bend neighborhood.

Former football star Steve Davis and friend Wes Caves died Sunday when the plane crashed into three houses near the South Bend Regional Airport. The two passengers and a resident of one of the homes were injured.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox said Monday that Davis and Caves were licensed pilots. It is not clear which man was flying the plane.

Fox said the plane attempted to land twice before crashing.

Investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder. Fox says the investigation into the cause of the crash could take a year.

South Bend Memorial Hospital has released the names of the two survivors of the crash. The small private aircraft clipped two houses before smashing into a third and snapping in half, leaking enough jet fuel to force the evacuation of nearby homes in the neighborhood, authorities said.

Hospital spokeswoman Maggie Scroope said Monday that the two survivors who were on board the private jet were Jim Rogers, who’s listed in serious condition, and Christopher Evans, who’s in fair condition. She did not have their hometowns or their ages.

Scroope says a woman on the ground who was injured when the jet crashed Sunday afternoon is in fair condition. She identified that woman as Diana McKeown.

The jet began its journey in Tulsa, Okla.

The front part of the fuselage of the Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet sat wedged inside the one-story home just southwest of the South Bend Regional Airport where the pilot had tried to land the plane Sunday afternoon minutes before the crash.

Authorities evacuated and cut the power to several homes in the neighborhood after fuel leaked from the jet’s engine into the basement of the home creating a “very dangerous” situation, Corthier said. Everyone in the neighborhood has been accounted for, he said.

One neighbor described her terror as the plane bore down on her home.

“I was looking out my picture window,” said Mary Jane Klaybor, who lives across the street from the crash site. “This (plane) was coming straight at my house. I went, `Huh?’ and then there was a big crash, and all the insulation went flying.”

She said: “I saw the plane, then I heard the boom.”

Authorities have not released the identities of those killed and injured in the crash.

The plane is registered to 7700 Enterprises in Helena, Mont., which does business in Tulsa as DigiCut Systems and is owned by Wes Caves.

A woman identifying herself as Caves’ wife answered the phone at their home Sunday and said, “I think he’s dead,” before hanging up.

Mike Daigle, executive director of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority, said the plane attempted a landing at the South Bend airport about 4:15 p.m., then went back up and maneuvered south to try another landing, but eight minutes later the airport learned the plane was no longer airborne.

He provided no information to indicate if the pilot communicated to the control tower that the plane was experiencing mechanical trouble or any other potential cause for the crash. Daigle said Monday he has no firsthand knowledge about what caused the plane to crash.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox arrived at the scene late Sunday. He said his agency will be looking for the cause of the crash and “to identify and remedy any issues that could have prevented this accident.”


Associated Press writers Tom Coyne and Jeff Latzke in South Bend, Ken Kusmer and Pam Engel in Indianapolis and Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.

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