Friends of an Antioch man and his daughter who were killed when their single-engine plane crashed in a Wisconsin field called their deaths a “devastating tragedy.”
Todd Parfitt, 50, and Nicole Parfitt, 14, were killed when the Grumman AA1 Todd Parfitt was piloting crashed into a cornfield near the Burlington Municipal Airport just before 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Walworth County sheriff’s officials said Monday.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said Todd Parfitt was trying to land the craft at the small, unmanned airport on the border between Racine County and Walworth County, about 20 miles north of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line.
Keith Halloway, a spokesman from the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators were reviewing the crash wreckage, as well as log books, maintenance schedules and other paperwork.
Because of the holiday weekend, the agency will not have a preliminary investigation crash report until next week, Halloway said.
“It truly is a devastating tragedy,” said family friend Brent Bluthardt. “You never want to see someone pass away, but to see a father and daughter pass away together like this is 100 times worse.”
Bluthardt said Todd Parfitt was an employee of United Airlines and was an experienced pilot. His daughter loved to be in the cockpit with him, Bluthardt said.
“Todd was a great father who cared about his son and daughter a ton,” he said. “Now, we just have to move forward and make sure his wife and son are taken care of as best we can.”
John Whitehurst, principal of Antioch High School where Nicole Parfitt was a freshman, said she was a very active member of the varsity dance team and seemed to have many friends.
“We made an announcement when students arrived for classes, but most students who knew Nicole already knew about it through Facebook,” Whitehurst said.
About half the students in school Monday wore purple — the color of the freshman class — to honor Nicole. They will be encouraged to do so again Tuesday, Whitehurst said.
Grief counselors and social workers were on hand Monday to meet with students in groups and individually as needed.
“It’s just such a tragedy,” Antioch-Lake Villa Area High School District 117 Superintendent Jim McKay said. “But we are doing what we can for the kids in the district and for the high school.”
Bluthardt also wanted to give special thanks to the residents of Antioch for their overwhelming support.
“The family and I are just amazed and gratified the amount of support the community has shown,” he said. “This is the best part of living in a nice, tight community.”
Bluthardt said a video tribute to Nicole has been posted to YouTube while a tribute page has been created by friends at Facebook.
Ÿ Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.