Two men were killed when a single-engine plane from St. Augustine crashed Wednesday into woods near an elementary school about a mile short of Gary/Chicago International Airport, authorities said.
The single-engine Cirrus SR22, crashed at 11:18 a.m. as it approached the Gary-based airfield, Gary police Cmdr. Sean A. Jones said. It's not yet known what caused the crash.
Jones said officials with the Lake County Coroner's Office removed the bodies from the scene around 5:30 p.m. He said the names of the victims would not be released until after they could be identified and their families notified.
Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Director John Black said he didn't know who owned the plane or who might have been on board. He said the plane arrived at the airport Tuesday night and departed Wednesday morning.
The plane is registered to Gandy AIR LLC in St. Augustine, according to the FAA. A phone call to the business rang unanswered.
"Today was a sad day in our city. Our hearts go out to the families of these plane crash victims," Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said in a statement released by police.
Delores Hinton, who lives about a block away from the crash site, said she was outside working on her car when she heard an explosion and then saw the plane go down.
"It exploded in the air right up over my house. I said, 'What was that?' The next thing I know, it was down," she said.
About two blocks away, Luther Jackson said he was in his home when he felt what he described as "thud that was strong enough where it kind of rattled the windows a little bit."
"Then when I went to the door and opened the door I saw a plume of smoke and then I heard sirens," he said.
The Lake County Coroner's Office said it was notified about 11:30 a.m.
"The Coroner's Office team of investigators has not been able to access the accident scene due to hazardous material being contained," the office said in a statement.