A small plane returning from the NCAA basketball championship game crashed near an airport in Bloomington, Illinois, early Tuesday morning, killing seven people.
At a news conference Tuesday, McClean County Sheriff Jon Sandage said the county coroner had pronounced the pilot and six passengers dead.
Authorities did not release the victims’ identities, but ESPN identified one of the passengers as Torrey Ward, an associate men’s basketball coach at Illinois State University in nearby Normal, Illinois.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said the plane, a twin-engine Cessna 414, had taken off from Indianapolis late Monday night. The plane encountered heavy fog over central Illinois, Scott Barrows, whose son-in-law, Scott Bittner, owned the plane and is among the dead, told the Chicago Tribune.
"My daughter's husband and three other men and the pilot went to the NCAA (championship) game last night and they were flying back and I guess the weather was bad in central Illinois. It was foggy," Barrows said.
He added that the plane was expected to land around midnight, and his daughter received a call at around 4 a.m. informing her of the crash.
The plane left the Indianapolis airport around 11 p.m. EST, authorities said. Around 12:15 a.m. CST, radar contact with the plane was lost.
The plane had been in contact with air traffic control in Peoria, about 45 miles northwest of Bloomington, according to Carl Olson, director of the Central Illinois Regional Airport. He did not say if the Cessna pilot indicated he was in trouble, but said that at some point, “radio contact was lost.”
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash and provided no further information about the other passengers on the plane.