MARION, Ind. (WISH) — A 60-year-old man died Thursday afternoon when his twin-engined plane crashed south of the city’s airport.
Jeffrey Barrett lived in Marion, according to a grandson, Gage Barrett. He said his grandfather had been fixing the aircraft and took it up for a test flight because he had been having issues with the engine and possibly the fuel gauge. Jeffrey Barrett was the only person on the plane, his grandson said.
The crash occurred about 2:20 p.m. between state roads 9 and 37 on State Road 22/U.S. 35, on the south side of the highway and south of one of the airport’s runway, said a news release from Grant County Sheriff Ed Beaty. The release said Jeffrey Barrett lived in Chesterfield.
Gage Barrett says he was one of the first people to the scene.
“It kind of hit me. My heart kind of knew what was going on. My brain didn’t want to accept what was reality,” said Barrett. “Right now I still kind of feel like he’s with me.”
Former volunteer firefighter Richard Kain said he was driving to work and witnessed the aftermath of the crash.
“There were several people that ran up to the plane. There was nothing you could do, it was too far gone to be able to do anything,” said Kain. “It’s just a tragedy that something happened and there was a loss of life. And you just feel for the people that are involved.”
Gage Barrett described his grandfather as one of the “smartest, coolest people ever.” He said Jeffrey Barrett had retired from the United States Air Force and leaves behind a wife, four children, and five grandchildren.
After the crash Barrett said he searched his grandfather’s hangar and found several receipts for airplane parts. Those documents are now part of the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into exactly what caused the Piper PA-30, a twin-engine cabin monoplane, to crash.
“He always worked on his own planes. He always told me you know if he died in his aircraft he wanted to be the reason to die so he never let anyone work on his aircraft,” said Barrett.
Sheriff Beaty said State Road 22/U.S. 35 will be closed again Friday as the investigation continues.
Marion Fire Chief Geoff Williams confirmed the fatality to News 8 just before 3 p.m. The crash happened when the plane nosed-dived in a field.
Grant County Sheriff Ed Beaty said by email that officials with the Federal Aviation Administration also were heading to the crash.
The crash was the second in Grant County this year. On April 2, two Madison County firefighters were killed when their plane hit another at the Marion Municipal Airport.
In that case, an early report from the Federal Aviation Authorities indicated one was landing while another was taking off, and the pilots did not see each other.
The Marion airport does not have a control tower, and its traffic is controlled from Chicago.