Correction: North Platte Plane Crash story

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Associated Press

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 3:00 AM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — In a story Jan. 12 about a small crash near North Platte that killed four people, The Associated Press erroneously reported the age of one of the victims. Ken Babcock was 71, not 72.

A corrected version of the story is below:

4 businessmen die in Nebraska small plane crash

Investigators search for cause of Nebraska small plane crash that killed 4 businessmen

By MARGERY A. BECK

Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal investigators on Saturday combed through the wreckage of a small plane that crashed in a remote area of central Nebraska, killing all four people onboard, including the pilot whose Kansas construction company owned the aircraft.

Mark Bottorff, 54, was flying Bottorff Construction's twin-propeller Beechcraft Baron when it crashed Friday afternoon after taking off from North Platte's airport, Jerry Ernzen, the vice president of operations at the Atchison, Kan., company told The Associated Press by phone Saturday.

"This is devastating," said Ernzen, who had worked for Bottorff for 24 years and who was speaking on behalf of his friend's grieving family. "I've been beside him in the field, in the office. We worked together, we played together. Our families are close. He had a lot of friends."

In addition to Bottorff, who lived in Lancaster, Kan., those killed were Ken Babcock, 71, of Hiawatha, Kan.; Jason Drane, 39, of St. Joseph, Mo., and Chris Nelsen, 53, of York, Neb., the Nebraska State Patrol reported.

Ernzen said Babcock owned KBS, a Hiawatha, Kan., grain bin manufacturer and Drane worked for him. Nelsen was a salesman for a grain equipment company based in York, Ernzen said. The four men were doing business together Friday, he said.

The plane crashed shortly after taking off from North Platte's airport and was headed to the airport in York, about 170 miles east, Tom Latson, the National Transportation Safety Board's lead investigator into the crash, told the AP by phone Saturday.

"Radar and radio contact was lost about 10 minutes later," said Latson, who said that he and other federal investigators were headed to the crash site on Saturday.

Ernzen said Bottorff was flying Nelsen back to York and then planned to return to Kansas.

A search was begun when the plane didn't arrive on time at the airport in York. It was found in a remote area about 11 miles northeast of the North Platte airport, Latson said.

Bottorff is survived by his wife, Linda, and two grown children, Justin and Jordan, who both work at their father's company, Ernzen said.

"He was mentor. He was a very good leader for us here," Ernzen said. "He was just somebody we all turned to, for about everything."

Investigators, including from the Federal Aviation Administration, will study radar data, speak to any witnesses and examine the wreckage to try to determine the cause of the crash, said NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway.

Officials from the manufacturer of the plane, Hawker Beechcraft of Wichita, Kan., and the manufacturer of the plane's engine, Continental Motors of Mobile, Ala., also were headed to the crash site, Latson said.

There was a freezing drizzle and light snow in the area when the crash happened, National Weather Service meteorologist Shawn Jacobs said Saturday.

A message left Saturday for the North Platte Regional Airport manager was not returned.

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