C O T T R E L L V I L L E T O W N S H I P, Mich., July
31 —A plane on a weekend skydiving trip
crashed early Saturday, killing all 10 aboard,
including nine skydivers and the pilot, state
The plane, a twin-engine Beech King Air, crashed
less than a mile from Marine City Airport at 8:20 a.m. in
this township, located about 40 miles north of Detroit,
said State Police Sgt. Craig Nyeholt.
The aircraft can carry up to 15 people.
The skydivers were part of a group called the
John Sers, who is the brother of one of the victims,
said the Parahawks jumped weekly.
His brother, who he declined to name, was a member
of the group.
“This is where my brother loved to be. This is his
passion. That’s what he loved to do. It was fast and it was
over. If you’ve got to die doing something, it ought to be
something you have a passion for,” Sers said.
“Everyone was doing what they loved and it was over
with quick. You couldn’t ask for anything else.”
No Opportunity to Jump
Macomb County Medical Examiner Werner Spitz said the
plane broke into three parts, and the victim’s bodies were
strewn across a 50-yard area of wreckage.
“I think it is likely they died from physical injuries, but
it’s significantly important to document if they inhaled
smoke and if they inhaled smoke prior to the time of the
crash,” Spitz said.
One body found in the cockpit was believed to be the
pilot. He was not wearing a parachute, Spitz said.
The other nine victims were wearing parachutes, but
they never had an opportunity to jump, he said.
Spitz said he was being assisted by the St. Clair
County medical examiner and that autopsies would be
Robert Franz, who lives nearby, said he heard the
plane taking off—and then he heard the engine go dead.
A second or two later, he said, there was a loud crash.
Franz says he grabbed his video camera and headed
to the scene, about a half mile away. He said the plane
had crashed in an open field, and had broken into two
Mike Miller, 45, and his son Dustin were sitting in their
living room when they saw the plane coming toward the
“This is an every day occurrence. Planes come in and
out all the time. But this one was a sharp bank that was
more than usual. We could see the bottom of the plane,”
Said son Dustin: “It was coming in awfully fast. I heard
a crunching sound like a can being crunched. Then the
ground shook a little and we saw the black smoke and
Mike Miller said he heard a loud thud and looked
outside again to see the plane on the ground.
“I didn’t see any survivors. I didn’t look around. I was
afraid of another explosion—and then there was one,” he
He said the skydiving group have been using the
airport for jumps for several years.