LINCOLN, Ill. (WMBD) — Three people are dead after a small plane crashed near Lincoln Tuesday morning.
WMBD spoke with witnesses who heard the impact and saw the flames. They say it is hard to process.
“I heard a big crackle, I looked outside and I had seen big smoke just rolling,” said Sarah Shelbey who works right across the street from where the crash happened.
A loud boom, followed by billowing smoke causing traffic to shut down on Interstate 55 Southbound for nearly five hours.
Dorothy Hupp works at the Beck’s Gas Station right next to the crash scene. She called 911 when she first heard about it.
“There was a gentleman, he had on a hazard vest, came running in yelling to call 911. He said there was a plane crash by exit 126. I could see the flames. I looked for the phone, and called 911,” Hupp said.
Shelbey tells WMBD she couldn’t believe what happened.
“I thought it was a car crash at first. I was hoping everybody got safe, and was just praying,” Shelbey said.
No IDs have been released as of 7:00 p.m. Tuesday. An investigator from the National Transportation and Safety Board is investigating the scene Tuesday night to determine the cause, where the plane was coming from, and where it was heading.
Terry Williams, spokesperson of NTSB, says officials will interview witnesses. Williams said this investigation could take up to a year and a half.
Illinois State Police said I-55 southbound at milepost 126 shut down throughout the morning and afternoon; it reopened around 2:30 p.m. The Illinois Department of Transporation said all lanes and shoulders were closed at the time.
According to ISP, the plane crashed at approximately 08:49 a.m. It became fully engulfed upon impact in the middle of the interstate.
Multiple agencies arrived on the scene to assist, including the Logan County Coroner’s Office. The three occupants on the plane were confirmed deceased by coroner Robert Thomas around 11 a.m. He said he will identify the victims pending next-of-kin notification.
There is no word on where the plane was coming from, where it was going, or what caused the crash at this time.
We have a crew on the scene.
Drone footage submitted by a viewer can be viewed below:
This story will be updated.