Four men were killed Sunday night in a central South Dakota plane crash. The flight originated in North Texas and was about to land near Highmore in Hyde County, when the plane struck a wind turbine. The pilot Donald “DJ” Fischer and three passengers Nick Reimann, Logan Rau, and Brent Beitelspacher all passed away in the crash. A crippled wind turbine breaks through the fog just south of Highmore. At its base is all that remains of DJ Fischer’s single engine Piper aircraft. A team made up of several local and federal agencies were are able to recover the bodies of all four men from the wreckage but the brutal weather is making their jobs very difficult.
“It’s definitely going to hinder and slow our investigation as well as the recovery efforts, it’s rainy, snowy, and sleety and we want to ensure that the evidence is preserved so it’s important that we collect it as soon as possible.” said Jennifer Rodi, a Senior Air Safety Investigator with the NTSB.
The wet conditions were just the start. Working beneath the damaged turbine every wind gust puts the recovery team at risk.
“with the blade not being secure it’s a hazard to our team on scene so we do need to secure that blade and make sure that our teams on scene are safe when they are doing their jobs.” said Rodi.
Investigator Rodi says recovery efforts will resume Tuesday morning . The hope is to move the wreckage to a hanger so they can conduct a thorough investigation in a secured environment. Even though efforts have moved quickly, we may have to wait some time for all the questions to be answered. Rodi added that it could take anywhere from eight months to a year for the FAA and NTSB to complete their investigation. The National Weather Service says the conditions Sunday night were similar to the wet and foggy conditions of Monday afternoon. The NTSB says they will also look into weather as a contributing factor in the crash.
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