Four fraternity brothers, all engineering graduates in their 30s, lost their lives Sunday afternoon in a plane crash near Carlinville, Illinois, about 60 miles north of the Missouri airport from which they departed.
The men departed from Creve Coeur Airport near St. Louis, Missouri, in a Piper Cherokee PA 28-235 at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. They were headed to Michigan after a weekend get-together, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Less than 15 minutes later, the plane crashed at a private farm in rural Carlinville, Illinois. All four men were pronounced dead at the scene. They were identified as pilot Joshua Daniel Sweers, 35, of Lansing, Michigan, and passengers Daniel A. Shedd, 37, of St. Charles, Missouri; Daniel Schlosser, 39, of Michigan; and John S. Camilleri, 39, of New York. The plane crashed near a farmhouse, but nobody on the ground was hurt.
The men were all engineering graduates from Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, where they belonged to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
The father of Daniel Shedd told the Post-Dispatch he had been tracking his son’s flight on an iPhone app until he had trouble getting the aircraft’s location. He tried texting his son but didn’t receive a reply. He then tried calling Daniel around when the plane should have landed in Michigan, but nobody answered.
The friends were on a “gorgeous, well-maintained 1964 plane that just passed annual inspection. Josh was proud of it,” Charles Shedd told the Post-Dispatch. The Piper Cherokee is a fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft that seats four people. According to FAA records, the plane was registered to Cleared for Takeoff LLC of Lansing, Michigan.
Running an online search on the airplane’s tail number, Charles Shedd told the Post-Dispatch that he found a site that refreshed the airplane’s airspeed, altitude, rate of climb, and other details every 15 seconds. He said he saw how the plane climbed at various rates until “they basically dived into the ground.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the plane crash with the help of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office. The NTSB has not yet released its preliminary report of the crash, but the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office said it wasn’t weather-related. According to the Post-Dispatch, the weather at the time of the plane crash was sunny and in the 70s.
Currently, there are no reports of Mr. Sweers issuing a mayday call. Several people witnessed the plane crash and said the aircraft was making some noise, Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl told the Post-Dispatch.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In addition to his Ethiopian Airlines crash clients, Mike has represented people seriously injured in various aviation crashes and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.