Witnesses say a plane that crashed near Sheldon last month had an engine problem. Three men from Wisconsin died June 23 when the single-engine Piper crashed during a flight from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, to a hunting trip in South Dakota.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board says two witnesses saw the plane at a low altitude and described the engine as "coughing , sputtering and missing." They also reported the engine quit, restarted and quit again. About five minutes later, they heard sirens and emergency vehicles.

The plane touched down in a cornfield, traveled through the field about 100 feet and hit a ditch near a gravel road before nosing over. 

O’Brien County sheriff’s office identified the men as 64-year-old Francis Allegretti of Cambridge, Wisconsin; 60-year-old Thomas Boos of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin; and 65-year-old Malcolm McMillan of Milton, Wisconsin. The plane’s owner was also from Milton, Wisconsin, but he was not on the flight.