By Lonnie Hinton
The last hours of 2016 had Johnson County officials, EMS personnel and many volunteers extremely busy dealing with a plane crash that killed four people from Iowa.
At approximately 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, Johnson County 911 received a report of a possible plane crash near East Crossroads Road in the southeastern part of the county.
The sheriff’s department, ambulance service, emergency management system, Vienna police and fire departments, Illinois State Police and several volunteers quickly responded to the area where the plane was believed to have crashed.
David Oliver said he was outside on his deck when he saw an aircraft flying overhead at treetop level and heard a crash soon afterwards.
When deputies arrived Oliver led them to the general area he believed the plane went down.
It took a little more than an hour to locate the plane. It was found in a densely wooded area approximately six miles southeast of Vienna.
The single engine Piper PA28 had four occupants in it, two men and two women. Johnson County Coroner David Rockwell pronounced all four dead at the scene Saturday night.
The deceased, all from Iowa, were identified late Monday evening as 34 year-old Curt R. Terpstra, Jordan Linder, age 35, Jasmine Linder, 26, and Krista Green, 37.
The plane was registered in Terpstra’s name. He is believed to have been the pilot.
Officials report the plane was traveling to Nashville, Tenn., when it crashed.
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials arrived on the scene Sunday afternoon to begin their investigation into the cause of the crash. They said it could take weeks or months before a cause could be determined. The plane remained at the site until late Monday afternoon.
NTSB investigator Ed Malinowski said debre from the plane was spread along a 150-foot area.
Once officials completed their on-site investigation the plane was removed and transported to Nashville, Tenn., for further inspection.
A dense fog and rain on Monday slowed the removal process.
The sheriff’s department used their two Hummers and four wheelers to transport federal officials to the site.
Johnson County Sheriff Charles Harner said this plane crash was the worst fatal aircraft crash in the county that he is aware of.
Harner commended everyone involved in the search and recovery efforts. “I must say one thing. Everyone worked well together, trying to find the plane,” the sheriff said.