The lone passenger of a single-engine plane was killed and the pilot severely injured when it crashed just north of Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling Wednesday afternoon.
Officials said they believe the pilot, Todd Cole of Jacksonville, Ill., crawled out of the burning Beechcraft after it hit the parking lot of a business near Wolf and Hintz roads.
Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Van Hyning of Jacksonville was killed in the crash, said Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Rene Benavidez.
Cole, 36, was flown to Lutheran General Hospital by a Flight For Life helicopter with multiple fractures and extreme burns before being taken to Loyola University Medical Center where he remained in serious condition Wednesday evening, officials said.
Authorities say the Beechcraft Sierra went down within a minute of taking off just after 3 p.m. After takeoff the pilot quickly radioed the plane had engine trouble and turned around. The pilot had permission to land at the airport, but it didn't make it.
"The engine was running rough and it fell out of the sky," said David Kolssak, vice chairman of the Chicago Executive Airport board.
Van Hyning was found trapped inside the burning plane, while Cole was lying on the ground near the crash site, in the parking lot of the Acco building, MacIsaac said.
MacIsaac said the cause of the crash is under investigation, but they believe the plane snagged the gas line on the Acco building roof -- used to heat the building -- and then went down in the adjacent parking lot.
It landed on three empty parked cars and exploded in flames.
According to eyewitnesses, people from nearby buildings ran out and were tending to Cole before paramedics arrived.
According to FAA records the plane is owned by Ronald Kesinger, a Jacksonville attorney who has a private pilot's license that allows him to operate and land a single-engine aircraft.
Dorthy Kesinger, the plane owner's aunt, said the family heard of the crash but knew her nephew was at a hospital at the time of the crash.
"We have talked with his sister, but no one seems to know anything about it," she said. "He must have rented it out or loaned it out. We've made calls, but haven't been able to find out anything."
Christine Wolff of Arlington Heights was driving down Wolf Road when, in her peripheral vision, she saw movement and then heard something hit the ground. She knew it was too loud and powerful to have been a car crash.
"I turned the corner, onto Hintz (Road), and there was just a big ball of black smoke. The parking lot where the plane crashed, the flames were just shooting up," she said.
The Wheeling police and fire departments and FAA investigators were at the scene of the crash until late Wednesday.
Acco employees were allowed back into their building because there was apparently no structural damage.
Crash: Plane landed on empty cars