A single-engine plane crashed into a South Dakota wind farm after flying through fog and low-hanging clouds on Monday, killing all four passengers on board.
National Transportation Safety Board authorities found the wreckage at the South Dakota Wind Energy Center, where 27 turbines tower 213 feet tall, not counting the blades. One of the turbines was damaged, but the heavy fog has kept investigators from inspecting the scene, according to Syracuse.com.
This is not the first time a plane has crashed into a wind farm–in 2008 near southeast Minnesota, poor weather caused the pilot of a 1948 Cessna 140 to lose control while trying to fly around wind turbines.
Funeral homes confirmed the deaths of the 30-year-old pilot, Donald J. “D.J.” Fischer, and of cattlemen Logan Rau and Brent Beitelspacher. Another funeral home declined to provide information on the fourth victim.
The fatal crash deeply affected the ranching community and Gettysburg, South Dakota.
“This is one of those things that’s going to hit the community pretty hard, because I would venture to say there are probably are not many people here who D.J. didn’t touch their life in some way,” said South Dakota state rep. Corey Brown. Fischer had just gotten married in March, leaving his poor wife a widow after only a month of marriage. His high school football coach described him as a gifted athlete with a “phenomenal” worth ethic.
Veterinarian Mike Mimms, who purchased over 3,000 cattle from Beitelspacher over the phone, had only met him that weekend in Hereford, Texas, where the group had flown to for a sale of live cattle and embryos.
“I got a Christmas card from him this Christmas. It was the first time I even knew what he looked like, and he’s standing there with his family with young kids. And I can’t get that image out of my mind,” said Mimms.
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