Crashed Marengo plane belonged to atheist activist Rob Sherman

The pilot of a small plane was killed after the home-built aircraft crashed in a corn field near Marengo overnight, authorities said Saturday.

The single-engine plane belonged to longtime suburban atheist activist Rob Sherman, Federal Aviation Administration records show. The pilot's name has not yet been released.

A passer-by called 911 at 7:27 a.m. to report the plane wreckage in a farm field off Meyer Road, according to the McHenry County Coroner's office.

Marengo firefighters found the single victim, a man, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:53 a.m.

Sherman, 63, a 32-year resident of Buffalo Grove, recently moved with his wife, Celeste, to a home with an airplane hangar in Poplar Grove, west of McHenry County, where he was setting up an airplane construction business.

Sherman unsuccessfully ran as a Green Party candidate for Congress in the Fifth District this fall. Not long after his loss, he announced his intention to run in 2018 for the 12th District seat downstate.

Sherman first made headlines back in 1986, when he challenged the suburb of Zion's right to display a Christian cross on a public water tower paid for by tax dollars. He has taken on a number of other issues over the years.

Attempts to reach Sherman and his family Saturday were unsuccessful.

The plane, a Zenair CH601, crashed under unknown circumstances, FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were planning to take the plane to a secure facility because of the heavy snow expected Saturday night, spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The crash occurred either late Friday night or early Saturday morning near Meyer Road, just north of Pleasant Grove Road, said Marengo firefighter-paramedic Joe Taylor.

The McHenry County Coroner's office will perform an autopsy Monday morning.

• Burt Constable and Lisa Friedman Miner contributed to this report.

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