SUMNER — The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) continues to investigate a single-engine airplane crash that resulted in the death of the pilot.
The crop duster apparently clipped a power line along West First Street/Iowa Highway 93 Thursday morning, before impacting in front of a mixed-use building next to Norby’s Farm Fleet and across the street from the Dollar General store and Life Line Emergency Vehicles. Electricity was knocked out to the west of Country Heights Drive, which is on the Butler County REC grid.
The pilot, David Baker, 56, of Swedesburg, was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities have not released a cause of death, but his obituary listed he was killed “from injuries sustained in a crop duster airplane accident.”
There were no other injuries.
Sumner Police Officer Trey Myers read a statement at the scene to local media that the Bremer County dispatch received multiple 911 calls at 7:22 a.m. about the crash. Sumner and Tripoli police, Sumner fire and EMS, the Bremer County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management Agency, Iowa State Patrol and Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Enforcement all responded.
The NTSB arrived on Friday.
“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.”
Power was knocked out for 74 cooperative members in the area. Electricity was restored gradually by 12:45 p.m.
Witnesses noticed the plane was engulfed in flames following impact. Also, a tire from the plane flew nearly 200 yards over the Norby’s parking lot and across Country Heights, before bouncing into the front door of Iowa State Bank
Greg Johnson, the president of the bank, said several of the financial institution’s employees were at work when they heard the explosion from the plane, 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, and it bounced all the way over here until it damaged our door.”
The impact of the wheel against the bank entrance shattered much of the glass. A caution tape spread between pylons surrounded the entrance with signs taped to it, encouraging customers to use the bank’s drive-thru.
At Norby’s Karla Michel, the store manager, and Lisa Smith, the assistant manager, heard the impact and then noticed the power go out to the retail outlet.
“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 grabbed 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.”
Sumner police reported on its Facebook page on Saturday that the wreckage has been mostly removed from the scene, with any remnants to be cleaned up Monday.
“At this time, we want to thank everyone for their assistance with far too many people, businesses and organizations to list,” a police statement read. “But, we also want to thank the community for the support. Without it, things would be far more difficult.
“The status of the investigation is still on going with many details being unknown and may never be truly known. All we know now is that it was a tragic loss of life with a family affected, as well as the NTSB and the (Federal Aviation Administration) are continuing their follow up investigation.”