MARION, Ind. (WISH) — Two Elwood men died Friday afternoon when their plane clipped a larger one while taking off from the Marion Municipal Airport, the Grant County coroner said.
The crash happened just after 5 p.m. Monday at the airport on the city’s south side at 5904 S. Western Ave., north of U.S. 35 between state roads 9 and 37.
Grant County Coroner Chris Butche said pilot Kyle M. Hibst and passenger David K. Wittkamper, both 31, died in the crash. Hibst died in a fire that erupted from the crash while Wittkamper was ejected from the plane. Their bodies were being taken to the Northeast Indiana Forensics Center in Fort Wayne for autopsies that likely will happen Tuesday.
Hibst’s Cessna 150 was taking off heading southeast when it hit a Cessna 525 Citation jet and clipped the top of its tail as it taxied on the runway after landing. The collision caused a fire aboard the Cessna, the coroner said.
No one aboard the Cessna 525 Citation jet was injured, the coroner said.
Hibst was the emergency medical technician chief and a firefighter and Wittkamper was a firefighter with the Pipe Creek Township Fire Department in Elwood.
The Pipe Creek Township Fire Department released the following statement after learning of the deaths of Hibst and Wittkamper:
"The Pipe Creek Township Fire Department is saddened by the loss of two firefighters from their department tonight. Firefighters Kyle Hibst and David Wittkamper were killed when their plane crashed at Marion Airport in Marion, IN late this afternoon.
Kyle Hibst joined the fire department on 2/12/2011 and served as a firefighter and EMS Chief for the department. Kyle’s wife Kim Hibst is also a member of the fire department. Kyle is the father of one young boy.
David Wittkamper joined the fire department on 5/12/2007 and served as a firefighter. David’s father and grandfather were past members of the Pipe Creek Fire Department and David grew up with the firefighters as his family. David is married to Autumn Wittkamper.
Chief Richard Shepherd is saddened by the loss of these two great individuals who have given so much back to their family, community and this fire department. The members of the Pipe Creek Fire Department are all at a loss as they come together to help each other thru this difficult time. Chief Shepherd is grateful for the outpouring of support from the emergency services in Madison County. Please respect the privacy of our firefighters, and the families who have lost loved ones tonight.
Funeral arrangements are pending, and will be released later this week."
Residents pulled their cars onto a side road to get a peek at the crash.
Local pilot Dave Johnson said, “It is a terrible thing. It hits home when you fly out here. I certainly sympathize greatly with the family. It is a terrible thing. The outcome with the individuals is heartbreaking.”
Marion police dispatchers said they had no information about the crash and could not provide a department source to comment. They said a news release will be issued.
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