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Plane crash under investigation

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At about 7:30 p.m. on the evening of November 21, Chadron dispatch received several calls reporting a "fireball" or "explosion" seen by witnesses outside of town.

The Chadron Volunteer Fire Department, Dawes County Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue personnel were then dispatched to a rural area near the Chadron Municipal Airport to address reports of a grass fire.

When first responders arrived on scene, it was determined that a small aircraft had gone down, causing a grass fire and killing the pilot as well as two passengers on board.

The fire was extinguished. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were contacted. The Dawes County Attorney/Coroner was then contacted and dispatched to the scene.

The autopsies of the three victims the plane crash have been completed and the identities of the victims has been officially determined to be 44-year-old Matthew Bruner of Scottsbluff, his 21-year-old son Noah Bruner also of Scottsbluff and 19-year-old Sydnee Brester, a close family friend from Gering.

According to the FAA, the make and model of the plane is a Cessna 310.

Further details will be released pending further investigation and family notifications.

This marks the second fatal plane crash in the area in less than a month. Retired Douglas, Wyo. teachers Don and Cindy Sutphin and their dog died when their Beechcraft P35 Bonanza went down north of Harrison on Oct. 31.

According to the report of the Sutphin flight, the plane departed Marion, Ohio at about 8 a.m. Eastern Time and stopped for fuel at Marshalltown, Iowa. The plane then left at about 11:04 a.m. Central time, enroute to Douglas.

A witness reported that while flying his airplane 15 miles south of Valentine at about 1:15 p.m. Central Time he observed a plane the same model as the Sutphins. The witness was aware of icing conditions in the same area the flight was headed, but received no response when he tried to radio the other plane.

Another witness, located southeast of Crawford reported hearing a low-flying plane between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Mountain Time. Weather conditions included an overcast cloud layer about 200 feet above ground level, one mile of visibility and "heavy freezing drizzle with ice particles."

Preliminary meteorological information showed the freezing level was at the surface near the accident site, with a broken cloud ceiling at about 600 feet at ground level, and potential for light-to-moderate clear icing and light rime ice.

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