2 killed in small cargo jet crash outside Chicago

January 5, 2010 9:33:59 PM PST
A small cargo jet crashed into a river in a forest preserve Tuesday shortly after being cleared to land at a suburban Chicago airport, killing the pilot and a co-pilot, authorities said. Officials said the two were the only people aboard the jet that crashed into the Des Plaines River in unincorporated Glenview as it was making its final approach about 1:30 p.m. to Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling. The Federal Aviation Administration said a cause was not immediately clear.

Emergency crews, which included divers, located the two bodies in the crumpled wreckage by Tuesday evening, Glenview Fire Chief Wayne Globeberger told reporters at the scene. Cook County Forest Preserve Police spokesman Steve Mayberry said the bodies would not be removed from the wreckage until Wednesday morning.

The Learjet Model 35 left Oakland County International Airport in Waterford, Mich., about 1 p.m. Tuesday, said J. David Vanderveen, who oversees the county's three airports. Oakland County International Airport is about 25 miles northwest of Detroit.

Vanderveen said the jet was empty of cargo, but was to pick up freight at the Wheeling airport, located about 15 miles northwest of Chicago.

"There was a pilot and a co-pilot," Vanderveen said. "Both were commercially rated, which means they were professional pilots."

The jet was registered to the Waterford-based Royal Air Freight, according to the FAA. A woman who answered the phone at the company declined to comment on the crash.