Oklahoman dead in east Texas plane crash
BY AMANDA BLAND World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
11/27/12 at 5:19 PM
WELLS, Texas — A plane en route from Houston to Tulsa crashed in east-cental Texas Monday night, killing a Broken Arrow, Okla., man on board.
John Thomas “Tom” Steeper, 64, died in the crash, a family member said.
Authorities in Cherokee County, Texas, began receiving numerous calls of “a bright fireball falling” accompanied by the sound of an airplane engine at 9:22 p.m., dispatchers said.
Search and rescue crews located the wreckage of a twin-engine Cessna 421 in a rural area of Angelina County late Monday evening, according to county dispatchers and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The crash site is about 140 miles north of Houston.
Steeper was reportedly killed when the plane crashed and exploded on impact during a thunderstorm west of Wells, the Lufkin News reported.
Air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact with the plane as it was maneuvering to avoid weather near Cherokee County, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said in a news release.
An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to arrive at the crash site Tuesday afternoon to begin the on-scene phase of their investigation, an NTSB spokesman said.
The board will release their preliminary findings in about 10 days and a final report in approximately 12 months.
The plane is registered to H-S Air LP in Broken Arrow.
Flight Aware, a public live flight-tracking website, shows the flight left Houston at 8:41 p.m. with an expected flight time of two hours.
The plane flew from Tulsa’s Jones Riverside Airport to Houston on Nov. 23, the website shows. A roundtrip flight from Tulsa to Houston and back was also made earlier this month.
Dan Howard owns the airplane hangar next to Steeper’s. The men have been acquainted for about 10 years.
Howard described Steeper as a nice man.
“It’s just really sad to see this happen,” Howard said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
Steeper, an engineer, traveled to Texas several times a year for business and had been traveling more frequently in recent months, Howard said.
Steeper was CEO of Engineering & Consulting Services Inc. in Broken Arrow, according to an employee at the business.
Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers Cody Sheperd (left) and David Hendry examine the smoky remains of a Cessna 421 that crashed in Cherokee County around 9:30 p.m. Monday. ANDY ADAMS/The Lufkin News