Authorities still have not been able to identify the four people killed in the weekend plane crash in Council Bluffs. The twin-engine Cessna, registered to Color Ink Corporation of Council Bluffs, crashed into a snow-covered field and exploded in flames four miles south of the Council Bluffs airport around 9:30 P.M. Friday.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker says identification of the victims’ bodies is taking time because their remains were badly damaged. Danker says the body that was likely the pilot’s remained in the wreckage and was badly burned. The other three victims were outside of the aircraft, but they had suffered so much trauma, the medical examiner could not make a positive identification.
Danker says the names of the victims are being withheld until the State Medical Examiner confirms their identities using dental records. He says they made contact with the family members Saturday to get their loved ones’ dental records. It could be today or tomorrow before the results are made available once all the records are turned in. The FAA says the pilot reported trouble south of the airport. Danker says both the FAA and NTSB were on the scene Saturday investigating the crash, but it was too soon to determine why the aircraft went down.
A snowstorm was passing through the area at the time of the crash, and Danker says that definitely could have played a role in the tragedy. Danker says he talked to another pilot who landed about a half an-hour prior to the crash. The pilot indicated the icing conditions were "pretty bad." But at the same time, Danker says other planes were landing while they were searching the crash site.
The sheriff says the accident was at least partially weather-related. At least one witness has come forward who saw the plane go down. Troy Hendrick was outside his Council Bluffs house and saw the plane explode into a ball of flames. Hendrick says "The sky, the ground, everything was just lit up like the sun was out and I was in complete awe."
Hendrick says it happened so fast, there was no way anyone could have helped the victims. He says "I tried to run up around the edge of the house to the other side of the pine tree but by the time I could even do that it was so bright out and I was just at a loss for words." Color Ink of Council Bluffs is owned by Dallas Johnson. Johnson’s daughter, Shawn Sorenson Peters, and company co-workers were reportedly on board. The family operates a wholesale greenhouse business.
The plane was reportedly traveling from Arkansas to Council Bluffs. The Omaha World Herald identifies the pilot as 51-year-old Steve Revord of Omaha.