Two people died in a plane crash Tuesday morning near Rock County’s Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, authorities reported.
The two people, who were not identified, were the only occupants of what was described as an “experimental” and “very unique” plane that crashed shortly before 9:30 a.m. near the airport, authorities said at a mid-day news conference at the airport.
The airport is about 2 miles north of the West Riverside Energy Center, Alliant Energy’s new natural gas power plant in Beloit.
The plane took off from the airport and was attempting to return when it crashed in a wooded, low-lying area with lots of water near the airport that was a “treacherous area to get to,” Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson said.
The occupants had a “very, very brief” conversation with the airport tower in which they reported an “undisclosed problem and moments later tower personnel saw the plane go down and immediately called 911,” Knudson said.
About 10 minutes later, a neighbor was the first to locate the crash site in a rural area about a mile south of the airport and that person directed a town of Beloit police officer to the site, and the officer coordinated the response.
Emergency responders weren’t able to get to the plane even with ATVs due to the heavy snow and terrain, and the Rock County Sheriff’s Office airboat was used to get to the wreck.
“Navigating all of that was very, very difficult,” Knudson said.
Officials reached the plane shortly after 10 a.m., finding it upside down and partially submerged in the water and mud, and recovered the two bodies, Knudson said.
There was a debris field and it was evident that the plane hit several trees, which tore the wings off, and that probably caused it to end up upside down, authorities said.
The Rock County Medical Examiner’s Office will release the identifications of the two people, Knudson said.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be taking over primary responsibility for the investigation of the crash, he said.
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