7 dead after plane returning from NCAA game crashes in Illinois

Emergency personnel and media gather at the scene near Bloomington, Ill., where a small plane, with at least five on board, crashed early Tuesday, April 7, 2015. The Federal Aviation Administration says the Cessna 414 crashed just short of the Bloomington airport after midnight Tuesday while returning from the NCAA college basketball championship in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/The Pantagraph, David Proeber)

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WISH) – A small plane crashed and killed all seven people on board, just north of the Bloomington, Illinois airport on Tuesday morning.

Rescue personnel found no survivors and a coroner pronounced the seven occupants dead, McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage confirmed at a midday news conference.

“Their identities were being withheld pending notification of family,” Sandage said.

Scott Barrows told reporters that his daughter’s husband, Scott Bittner, 42, was among several other men on board along with the pilot.

Bittner lived with his wife and two children in Towanda, a small village just outside Bloomington, according to a co-worker who spoke to The Associated Press.

He owned a meat processing plant in Eureka, Illinois, carrying on the family’s line of work after his dad established another plant in the small city of Chenoa, where Bittner grew up.

“He always told me that he wasn’t my boss. That I didn’t work for him, I worked with him,” said Terry Wertz, who has worked at Bittner’s Meat Co. for 15 years.

Bittner had traveled to Indianapolis for the NCAA tournament using his dad’s plane, which he primarily used for business trips, Wertz said.

The Cessna 414 left from Indianapolis and was headed for Bloomington, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The National Transportation Safety Board have launched an investigation, but there was no initial word on the cause of the crash. News photos from near the scene showed dense fog.

Investigations may take up to a year or more to be completed.

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