CHANUTE, Kan. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says four people died when a small plane crashed in southeastern Kansas. All the people on board the plane had ties to Tulsa's Oral Roberts University.
NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson says five people were aboard the twin-engine Cessna 401 when it went down around 4:30 p.m. Friday northwest of Chanute. Knudson says the eight-seat plane caught fire after the crash. It had apparently taken off earlier in the afternoon from the Jones-Riverside Airport in Tulsa.
The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating and says the crash occurred about seven miles northwest of Chanute. That's a generally rural area.
The plane was en route to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Knudson says the plane lost contact with air traffic control shortly after getting permission to descend to a lower altitude. Knudson says investigators were unaware of any distress call.
The dead are 29-year-0ld Garrett Coble, a former instructor at ORU. Luke Sheets, 23, Stephen Luth, 22 and Austin Anderson, 27. Anderson, Luth and Sheets had graduated last week from ORU.
The fifth person on the plane is the sole survivor and is the daughter of an ORU trustee.
ORU President Mark Rutland issued the following statement on Facebook:
A letter from ORU President Dr. Mark Rutland to the ORU family:
There was a tragic plane crash in southern Kansas yesterday and five people with connections to ORU were involved in the accident.
Stephen Luth, Luke Sheets, and Austin Anderson, all three recent graduates, and Garret Coble, a former instructor in the College of Business, have died. Hannah Luce, a recent graduate and daughter of ORU Trustee Ron Luce, is in the hospital.
Please pray for all of the families that lost loved ones and for Hannah in the hospital. Pray for God’s peace to be with all of them and pray for Hannah’s healing.
Your Servant at ORU,
Mark Rutland Ph. D.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.