SUMNER — A crop dusting airplane clipped power lines and crashed Thursday morning on the west side of Sumner. The pilot was dead at scene and power was knocked out to part of the city.
Authorities identified the pilot as David Baker, 56, of Swedesburg, Iowa.
Witnesses report seeing a ball of flame at the crash site, but there were no other injuries.
One of the plane’s wheels was thrown nearly 200 yards east and shattered the main entrance door of a bank building.
Sumner Police Officer Trey Myers said Bremer County dispatch took multiple 911 calls about the crash just before 7:30 a.m. Sumner and Tripoli police, Sumner Fire and Emergency Medical Services, the Iowa State Patrol, the Bremer County Sheriff’s Office, Bremer County Emergency Management Agency, the Iowa Department of Transportation and Butler County REC all responded to the incident.
The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct the investigation.
Power to the west of Country Heights Drive, which is on the rural grid, was knocked off after the plane clipped the electrical line on its way down.
“Other than the power lines, there really is no other damage,” Myers said. “Right here at (First State Bank), this is — other than the crash itself — the most significant property damage there is.”
Greg Johnson, the president of the bank, said several of its employees were at work when they heard an explosion, but didn’t see the crash.
“One of the co-workers saw the tire from the plane,” Johnson said. “It flew across the parking lot from Norby’s (Fleet Farm) and it bounced all the way over here until it damaged our door.”
The wheel’s impact shattered much of the glass entrance and plywood was later put up in place of the glass. The bank put up signs encouraging customers to use its drive-through.
Over at Norby’s, Karla Michel, the store manager, and Lisa Smith, the assistant manager, heard the impact and then the power went out.
“We came out to see what it was,” Michel said. “We then looked over and saw black smoke, and we saw the plane up in flames.”
“It was like a fireball,” Smith said. “We thought, ‘What was that?’ It was loud, and then our power went out, so we tried to figure out what was going on.”
Michel said on their way out the door, she saw the tire fly across the parking lot before hitting the bank. Johnson said, out of curiosity, he measured the distance with a golf range finder.
“We checked it out, and it was 191 (yards) from here to there (the crash site),” Johnson said. “It was a lot of force coming over here.”
Power was restored to the west end of town by noon.
Myers said all emergency crews handled the situation as seamlessly as possible.
“We worked well with all of the different agencies,” he said. “It was as best as could be expected.”