Meridian, MS Private Plane Crash, Dec 1995


Meridian, Miss. (AP) - Air safety officials were expected to wrap up an investigation Friday as to why a single-engine plane crashed in heavy woods south of the city, killing the pilot and two passengers, including STEVE CHEEK of Kokomo, Ind.
The four-seat Trinidad TB 20 crashed Wednesday in a heavily wooded area about six miles south of Key Field. It was found Thursday.
The victims were the plane's pilot/
owner, FRED MARSCH, 48, of London, Ohio, and his two passengers, STEVE CHEEK, 41, 3200 Bryan St., Kokomo, and RAY DIAZ, 50, of Aurora, Ill.
The three were killed on impact, according to Lauderdale County Deputy Coroner Clayton Cobler.
Marl Cobler, Lauderdale County coroner, said the aircraft may have attempted an emergency landing after running out of fuel. Investigators could not smell fuel at the crash site, he said.
"Witnesses said it (aircraft) was sputtering and missing, and then it quit, and they heard a boom," the coroner said.
Witnesses also said the plane came in sideways, landing partially on one wing and the roof. Only a few trees were clipped when the plane went down, making it hard to spot the crash site from the air.
Federal Aviation Administration Inspector Mel Athey said the plane's emergency locator transmitter was detached from the battery after impact. That, plus bad weather Wednesday, hampered the search for the plane, he said.
Eddie Ivy of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency said it was raining when the aircraft went down. Ground crews also battled fog while searching for the plane, he said.
The Mississippi Forestry Commission sent in a bulldozer to clear a road to the crash site. The bodies were cut out of the wreckage after Athey arrived.
The Madison (Ohio) Press reported MARSCH was a certified pilot with five years' experience. He left a Zionsville, Ind., airport around 9 a.m. EST Wednesday to fly to Meridian on business.

Kokomo Tribune Indiana 1995-12-09