OWATONNA, Minn. A business trip from New Jersey to Minnesota ended in the deaths of six casino and construction executives after their corporate jet crashed while preparing to land, killing everyone aboard.
Federal investigators were to return to the scene Friday to inspect the wreckage of the Raytheon Hawker 800 and search for clues about why it went down.
The plane was carrying eight people two pilots and six passengers who were headed to a business meeting in this city about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities.
The jet crashed around 9:45 a.m. Thursday, shortly after severe weather had moved through southern Minnesota.
The National Transportation Safety Board was reviewing the weather, as well as the plane's structure, its control systems and other factors. A cockpit voice recorder and a flight management system were recovered and sent to the NTSB lab in Washington for analysis.
The executives were coming to Owatonna to meet with representatives of a local glass company called Viracon to discuss a project in Las Vegas.
The charter jet, flying from Atlantic City, N.J., to this town of 25,000, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport. The wreckage was not visible from the airport, and roadways leading to the site were blocked off.
The airport was closed to arriving planes Friday. The only flights allowed were departures, and those aircraft were forbidden to fly over the crash site.
Seven people were found dead at the site. One died later at a hospital.
Two other people who were supposed to be on board did not get on the flight, said Doug Neville, Department of Public Safety spokesman.
The airport lies alongside Interstate 35 near Owatonna. The facility's Web site describes it as "ideal for all classes of corporate aircraft use" with an all-weather instrument landing system.
Neville said the airport has no control tower, and pilots communicate with controllers in Minneapolis.
An hour before the crash, a 72 mph wind gust was reported in Owatonna, according to the National Weather Service.
But witnesses said the crash occurred after the worst of the storm had passed, with the sky clearing and only light rain. The weather service reported that winds had quieted to 5 mph, with visibility greater than 10 miles in the Owatonna area, though there was a thunderstorm about five miles from the airport.
By late Thursday, five of the victims had been identified. They were:
Karen Sandland, 44, a project manager for Revel Entertainment, which is building a $2 billion hotel-casino in Atlantic City. She worked out of the offices of a construction company in Newark, N.J.
Two pilots, Clark Keefer of Bethlehem, Pa., and Dan D'Ambrosio of Hellertown, Pa.
Two executives of APG International, a Glassboro, N.J., company that specializes in glass facades: Marc Rosenberg, the company's chief operating officer, and Alan Barnett, its assistant project manager.
The plane had been scheduled to land at 9:42 a.m., then take off at 11:40 a.m. for Crossville, Tenn.
Associated Press writer Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, N.J., contributed to this report.