Plane crash kills ex-star college football player

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Associated Press

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 18 at 10:30 AM

SOUTH BEND, Indiana (AP) — A former college football star was one of two people killed when a small aircraft smashed into a house in the state of Indiana, officials said Monday.

Authorities identified one of the victims as Steve Davis, 60, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. A University of Oklahoma athletics official confirmed the victim was the star who led the school to two national championships in the 1970s. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the school has not yet announced the death.

With Davis as quarterback, the most important position in American football, the Oklahoma Sooners won the national title in 1974 and again in 1975.

The other victim, 58-year-old Wesley Caves, owned the Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet that clipped one house before slamming into two more Sunday afternoon, authorities said. Caves had a pilot's license, but it was not immediately clear if he was flying the plane when it crashed.

The plane leaked enough fuel in the crash to force the evacuation of hundreds of people from surrounding homes. The front part of the fuselage sat wedged inside the house just southwest of the South Bend Regional Airport where the pilot had tried to land the plane Sunday afternoon, minutes before the crash.

Two others on board the plane survived, South Bend Assistant Fire Chief John Corthier said. South Bend Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Maggie Scroope said Monday that Jim Rogers was in serious condition and Christopher Evans was in fair condition.

A woman who was injured on the ground, Diana McKeown, was in fair condition, Scroope said.

Authorities evacuated and cut the power to several homes in the neighborhood after fuel leaked from the jet's engine into the basement of the home creating a "very dangerous" situation, Corthier said. Everyone in the neighborhood has been accounted for, he said.

One neighbor described her terror as the plane bore down on her home.

"I was looking out my picture window," said Mary Jane Klaybor, who lives across the street from the crash site. "This (plane) was coming straight at my house. I went, 'Huh?' and then there was a big crash, and all the insulation went flying."

She said: "I saw the plane, then I heard the boom."

The plane began its journey in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is registered to 7700 Enterprises in Helena, Montana, which does business in Tulsa as DigiCut Systems and is owned by Caves.

Mike Daigle, executive director of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority, said the plane attempted a landing at the South Bend airport about 4:15 p.m. local time, then went back up and maneuvered south to try another landing, but eight minutes later the airport learned the plane was no longer airborne.

He provided no information to indicate if the pilot said the plane was experiencing mechanical trouble. Daigle said Monday he has no firsthand knowledge about what caused the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox arrived at the scene late Sunday. He said his agency will be looking for the cause of the crash and "to identify and remedy any issues that could have prevented this accident."

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Associated Press writers Ken Kusmer and Pam Engel in Indianapolis, and Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.

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