MADEIRA, Ohio — Federal investigators have yet to arrive to search for what caused a plane to crash into a home Tuesday, killing the 62-year-old pilot. But the work is underway.
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board got tied up in Colorado, so another group is expected to arrive Thursday.
In the meantime, Federal Aviation Administration and local authorities are making sure the crash site is well preserved. No one else is being allowed in the area, not even the homeowners who were away when the twin-engine Piper PA-31 nosedived into their property on Rolleymeade Drive and caught fire in the backyard.
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No one on the ground was hurt.
The homeowners "were grateful they weren’t home. They were grateful that, unfortunately, the fatality was the only one that happened,” said Madeira Indian Hill fire Chief Steve Ashbrock. “They were very happy that their dogs were OK. Police officers got the dogs out of the house very quickly. “
Ashbrock said his team has been interviewing neighbors about what they saw and heard. There is some question about what happened right before the plane plunged, apparently while on its way back to nearby Lunken Airport. Some people heard a popping sound. Others say he appeared to be flying extremely low.
"There’s a flight path minimum and, I hate to be crass, but he clearly was under the minimums or came under the minimums," Ashbrock said. "But we see a lot of aircraft through here all the time and we've checked complaints sometimes that they’re too low and found out they’re not.
“We're gathering information just like you’re gathering information," Ashbrock said. "We don’t know but bits and pieces. If you talk to the neighbors, there are lots of different stories from lots of different perspectives. It’s a puzzle. And so trying to put all that together is really how you figure this out. That’s why these things aren’t done in a day or two days.”
The pilot, identified as David Sapp of Sun City, Arizona, was the only person on board. He left Lunken earlier in the day and was doing aerial photography when the plane dropped from the sky, according to neighbors.
The plane was registered to MARC, Inc., a company based in Bolton, Mississippi.
There is no word how long the wreckage will remain in place. The investigation could take months or longer.