U.S. Agency to Check Parts of Plane after Sky Divers' Crash

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will examine an engine and the propellers from a twin-engine plane that crashed July 29 just after takeoff from Sullivan Regional Airport, according to a preliminary report issued Monday.

The report detailed eyewitness accounts of the crash but did not point to what caused it. A final report is not expected for six months.

The plane, carrying sky divers for the Quantum Leap Skydiving Center, located near the airport, crashed at 1:45 p.m. in the 1000 block of North and South Road, just northwest of the airport, authorities said. The pilot and five passengers were killed in the crash; two passengers were seriously injured.

The report quoted a bicyclist who reported seeing the plane's right engine explode in fire shortly after takeoff. The plane turned to the right and did not gain altitude as it went over some trees, out of sight. He said he heard a crunch 15 seconds later. Another witness, Lisa Whitaker, told the safety board the plane was flying level before it nosed down yards away from the pool where she was swimming.

Killed in the crash were Scott Cowan, 42, who ran Quantum Leap Skydiving Center in Sullivan; Melissa Berridge, 38, of St. Louis; Robert Cook, 22, of Rolla, Mo.; Robert Walsh, 44, of Webster Groves; Victoria Delacroix, 22, of Dittmer; and David Paternoster, 35, of Claycomo, Mo.

The survivors are Steve Parrella, 46, of St. Louis, and Kimberly Ellen Dear, 21, of Dittmer.

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