KOKOMO - Three people killed in a plane crash near the Glenndale Airport on Sunday morning have now been identified.
A Monday morning media release sent out from the Howard County Sheriff’s Department stated that a Piper PC-32 was attempting to land on one of the airport’s runways when it struck a large high-tension wooden power line pole, causing the airplane to nose-dive into a nearby cornfield.
On board at the time were passengers Liam Kelly, 17, and Reece Kelly, 15, brothers from Carmel; Cameron Wagler, 17, Greentown; and flight instructor Jerral Long, 63, Kokomo.
The Kellys and Long were killed upon impact, police stated in the release, while Wagler was alert and conscious and being tended to by bystanders when first responders arrived.
According to a statement Monday morning by Kokomo's chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association [EAA], the teenagers and Long were all volunteering at the airport’s “Glenndale Days,” an annual event closed to the public.
"It is with great sadness today that we mourn the loss of our fellow pilots, friends and family," the organization's statement read. "Yesterday morning at the 'Glenndale Days' event, our four friends volunteering for the weekend decided to take a flight around the city before things got too busy.
"Tragically, coming back in to land, they collided with a utility pole for the high tension power lines, and crashed in a field just short of the runway. ... As you can imagine, our airport community and families are completely devastated. Please pray for these families and everyone involved," the statement concluded.
The four on board were also associated with the local aviation group, "The Flying Squirrels," Monday's media release stated.
The group, its website notes, was founded in 1965 and is sponsored by the Flight Training Centers at airports in Kokomo, Sheridan and Westfield, dedicated to teaching aviation to children ages 14-18.
And after news broke about Sunday’s plane crash, hundreds also took to Facebook to express their condolences for the three lives lost.
Kelly family friend Amy Miller Gardine — in a Facebook post that already had over 800 shares as of 10 p.m. Sunday night — remembered Liam and Reece as “beautiful young souls.”
“It is with a profoundly heavy heart that I am writing about the devastating loss,” Gardine’s statement, accompanied by a family photograph, read in part. “… As the news develops, we are hoping to let you know how you can help. For now, please pray for their family. Hold a space of silence. Join with all of us as we weep together over the sadness of it all.”
Another post, written Sunday evening by Kokomo resident and local flight instructor Zach Funk, remarked that “yesterday [Saturday] was one of the best days of my young aviation career, and today was the worst,” referring to Sunday’s incident.
Autopsies are scheduled for Tuesday, and the investigation into the crash is ongoing.
This story will be updated.