UPDATE: Former Oklahoma quarterback among two confirmed dead in South Bend plane crash

By: Newscenter 16 staff Email
By: Newscenter 16 staff Email

Photo courtesy of KJRH

Photo courtesy of KJRH

The St. Joseph County Coroner's office has confirmed the names of the victims in the fatal twin-engine jet crash in South Bend on Sunday afternoon near the South Bend Regional Airport.

60-year-old Steven Davis, a former, well-known, Oklahoma University football star, has been confirmed dead. Davis was a quaterback for the Sooners from 1973-75. Davis led the team to the National Championship games in 1974 and 1975. He was also named MVP in 1976.

58-year-old Wesley Caves, of Tulsa, Oklahoma was also killed in the crash.

The crash happened Sunday around 4:15 p.m. EDT in the 1600 block of N. Iowa St., which is near the intersection of North Bendix Dr. and U.S. 20, just southeast of the South Bend Regional Airport.

Some 200 residents were evacuated from their homes on Ryer and Iowa Streets on Sunday. Ryer Street residents were allowed to return home Sunday night, but were without power and electricity through late Monday morning. All but 8 homes on Iowa Street have been cleared. AEP and NISPCO have confirmed the power and gas is back on for all homes on Ryer and Iowa Streets except for the 3 directly involved in the crash.

Assistant South Bend Fire Chief John Corthier says the plane and one house have been searched. No people were found inside the house. Two other homes have yet to be searched because of structural issues.

Members of the National Transportation Safety Board arrived around 10 p.m. Sunday. The team of investigators will comb through the wreckage for at least four days.

The plane is registered to 7700 Enterprises of Montana LLC., based in Helena, Mont. The eight-seat aircraft was powered by two Williams FJ44-2A turbo fan jet engines, according to the aircraft’s online registration.

According to KJRH, our NBC affiliate in Tulsa, Okla., 7700 Enterprises is owned by Wes Caves. A woman identifying herself as Caves' wife answered the phone at their home Sunday and said, "I think he's dead," before hanging up.

Due to a subsequent jet fuel leak, every home along N. Iowa St. and Ryer St., between Keller St. and Elwood Ave., was evacuated. An estimated 200 have been displaced. Ryer Street residents were allowed to return to their homes late Sunday night, but power will be shut off in the area until at least Monday afternoon.

Displaced residents without a secondary home to stay were shuttled to Clay United Methodist Church in South Bend. The church is located at 17646 Cleveland Rd and can be reached at (574) 272-8068.

“This is a very dangerous situation because of the jet fuel and structural issues with the three houses involved. We need to shore-up the homes before entering and conducting rescue attempts,” a South Bend fire official said during a 6:30 p.m. EDT news conference.

According to a FAA spokesman, the pilot radioed for help after experiencing technical problems around 4 p.m. EDT. A landing attempt was made on runway 9R-27L, but the aircraft failed to touch down. While attempting to perform a fly-around, the Premier jet crashed into the row of one story houses.

Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Maggie Scroope tells NewsCenter 16, the level two trauma center is treating three victims. One patient is listed in serious condition, with surgery planned for Sunday evening. The other two patients were in stable condition. Names and ages have not been released.

Initially, hospital staff issued a "Code Yellow," which essentially put the medical center on warning, but did not require extra medical workers be called in. That cautionary measure was lifted around 6 p.m.

According to FlightAware.com, the plane, a Raytheon Premier 1 with tail number N26DK, left the Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport in Tulsa, Okla. around 2:58 EDT. It was scheduled to land around 4:20 p.m. EDT at the South Bend Regional Airport, 671 miles away. That of course never occurred.

To view the manifest information for yourself, click here.

Michael Guljas of the South Bend Regional Airport says commercial and private aviation traffic was never suspended because the crash did not take place on airport ground.

Indiana Conservation Officers, Indiana State Police and St. Joseph County Police assisted with traffic control and scene triage. Dispatchers ask that people stay away from the area for safety reasons.

The NTSB says a preliminary report detailing basic facts of the accident is due within a week, while the probable cause report could take up to a year to complete.


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