OWATONNA, Minn. – Federal investigators returned Friday to the site of a plane crash that killed eight people, hoping to find clues to what brought down the corporate jet as it tried to land.
The Raytheon Hawker 800 was carrying six casino and construction executives from New Jersey to a business meeting in this town about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities.
They and the two pilots were killed when the jet crashed around 9:45 a.m. Thursday, shortly after severe weather had moved through southern Minnesota.
Roy Redman, president of RARE Aircraft Inc., a mechanics company at the airport, said Friday that he was inside and heard the plane land on the runway. Moments later, one of his mechanics who had watched the landing came running around the building, yelling that the jet had gone off the runway and disappeared in some trees in the distance.
Redman, who called 911, said the mechanic told him the jet landed, then went airborne, rolled, and hit the ground.
The National Transportation Safety Board was reviewing the weather, as well as the plane's structure, its control systems and other factors. A cockpit voice recorder and a flight management system were recovered and sent to the NTSB lab in Washington for analysis.
The executives were coming to Owatonna to meet with representatives of a local glass company called Viracon to discuss a $2 billion hotel-casino complex being built in Atlantic City by Revel Entertainment.
The charter jet, flying from Atlantic City, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport. The wreckage was not visible from the airport, and roadways leading to the site were blocked off.
The airport was closed to arriving planes Friday. The only flights allowed were departures, and those aircraft were forbidden to fly over the crash site.
Seven people were found dead at the site. One died later at a hospital.
Two other people who were supposed to be on board did not get on the flight, said Doug Neville, Department of Public Safety spokesman.
The airport lies alongside Interstate 35 near Owatonna. The facility's Web site describes it as "ideal for all classes of corporate aircraft use" with an all-weather instrument landing system.
Neville said the airport has no control tower, and pilots communicate with controllers in Minneapolis.
An hour before the crash, a 72 mph wind gust was reported in Owatonna, according to the National Weather Service.
But witnesses said the crash occurred after the worst of the storm had passed, with the sky clearing and only light rain. The weather service reported that winds had quieted to 5 mph, with visibility greater than 10 miles in the Owatonna area, though there was a thunderstorm about five miles from the airport.
By Friday morning, five of the victims had been identified. They were:
• Karen Sandland, 44, a project manager for Tishman Construction Corp. who was working on the Revel project. Sandland worked out of Tishman's Newark office.
• Two pilots, Clark Keefer of Bethlehem, Pa., and Dan D'Ambrosio of Hellertown, Pa.
• Two executives of APG International, a Glassboro, N.J., company that specializes in glass facades: Marc Rosenberg, the company's chief operating officer, and Alan Barnett, its assistant project manager.
Revel Entertainment confirmed the other three victims worked for that firm but had not released the names by Friday morning.
The plane had been scheduled to land at 9:42 a.m., then take off at 11:40 a.m. for Crossville, Tenn.