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Crash update: Oto, Correctionville men die in crash Saturday

Sunday, December 2, 2012

CORRECTIONVILLE, Iowa (AP) Two people died when a small plane crashed into a northwest Iowa field on a foggy night this weekend, and the pilot was seriously injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the Saturday evening crash about 2 miles south of Correctionville.

The Woodbury County Sheriff's office said Lee Schroeder, 53, of Oto, and James Smith, 55, of Correctionville, both died in the crash.

The pilot, 70-year-old Gaylen Knaack, sustained serious burns in the crash. Officials said a small fire in the wreckage spread to the surrounding field before it was extinguished.

A fog warning was in effect for the region where the plane crashed Saturday, and the National Weather Service said visibility was down to less than a quarter mile in places.

The FAA said the 1961 single-engine Beech 235 plane crashed short of a private grass airstrip just south of Correctionville. The plane was flying in from Grand Island, Neb.

Investigators said it's not yet clear whether the fog contributed to the crash, but it did hinder the response to it.

The fog made it impossible for paramedics to fly Knaack to a hospital for treatment because a helicopter could not reach the crash site. And an ambulance collided with a law enforcement vehicle on the way to the crash.

Knaack was driven to a Sioux City hospital and later transferred to a burn center in Lincoln. Saint Elizabeth spokeswoman Betty Thompson said Knaack was in critical condition Sunday.

Former Anthon Fire Chief Mike Berning said he knew all three men because they lived in the area and because Schroeder was a long-time firefighter. He said Schroeder was scheduled to portray Santa Claus at a town celebration next weekend.

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