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Fatal Ultra-light Crash Pilot Identified

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July 22, 2013 — The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department says a South Bend man was the pilot of a fatal ultra-light aircraft crash.

The Sheriff says 36-year-old Benjamin T. Hubbard’s body was among the wreckage from yesterday’s crash in LaPorte County. Sheriff Michael Mollenhauer’s office says Hubbard’s cause of death and the crash itself remain under investigation, led by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Sheriff Mollenhauer reported Monday morning that the pilot was alone aboard the single-engine plane and was found deceased before the FAA was immediately contacted, “and they made contact with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The FAA currently has an investigator on scene and are awaiting NTSB investigators. The investigation has since been turned over to the FAA and NTSB.”

The Sheriff’s Office says deputies received two calls about the crash, with the first around 7 a.m. Sunday when the La Porte County Regional Dispatch Center received a 911 call from a resident near Division Road and County Road 600 East reporting a possible plane crash, “Deputies responded and the complainant reported that he believed a crop duster airplane had crashed. Deputies observed a crop duster in the area, still flying and because no wreckage or evidence of a plane crash could be found, they cleared the area.”

“At 1155 am (CST), the Dispatch Center received another 911 call from a pilot of an aircraft who reported that he had just located the wreckage of an ultra-light airplane in a field east of County Road 600 East, south of Division Road. Deputies arrived in the area and the pilot who had reported the discovery circled over the wreckage until it was located. Sheriff’s Deputies located the wreckage in a field located approximately 2,100 feet east of County Road 600 East, south of Division Road. The crashed plane was located 235 feet south of the roadway in a corn field that contained corn that was approximately six to ten feet in height. The wreckage could not been seen from the road.

Deputies have learned that the pilot who made the discovery had reported that he and the deceased had departed the Niles, Michigan airport at approximately 6:30 (CST) this morning, in route to Plymouth, Indiana where the two were going to meet. Both left in separate aircraft, he in a Cessna and his friend in his ultra-light. That pilot arrived in Plymouth and when his friend failed to arrive he departed Plymouth and retraced his route and discovered the wreckage of the ultra-light and called 911 via his cellular telephone. He remained in the air, circling the crash site until emergency responders arrived on scene.”

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