A small plane crashed into a house near a Minnesota airport, killing the pilot and both of his passengers, but two people sleeping inside the house – and their cat – narrowly escaped, officials said.
Hermantown police said a Cessna 172 plane crashed into the second floor of a home in the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road south of Duluth Airport late Saturday, before coming to rest in the backyard.
The victims have been identified as Alyssa Schmidt, a 32-year-old elementary school teacher in St. Paul, her brother, Matthew Schmidt, 31, and the pilot, Tyler Fretland, 32, both of Burnsville.
Jason Hoffman, the owner of the badly damaged house in the accident, told Minnesota Public Radio That he and his wife, Krystal, were sleeping just an hour before the plane’s bed hit the ceiling.
“We couldn’t all barely see each other through the insulation dust. I was able to hold a flashlight next to the bed and the first thing I saw was the wheel of an airplane sitting at the end of our bed,” Hoffman he said. “At the same time we looked outside and saw that half of our house was gone.”
The couple found that their cat was not completely safe in the basement and fled the house, moving carefully to avoid live power lines that had been toppled by the plane.
Hoffman found the wreck of a Cessna between a truck and a garage.
“I’m still not sure what to think. It doesn’t feel real at all,” Hoffman said of the fatal crash. “We just got lucky. The loss of life is heartbreaking. Plus we’re grateful for making it through this.”
Hoffman said the house where his wife had lived for seven years could have been a total loss.
Independent School District Spokesperson 196 KSTP. have confirmed Alyssa Schmidt taught third grade at Echo Park Elementary School.
“You were a kind and loving soul,” wrote colleague Caroline Jahnke Manderfeld in a Facebook post mourning Alyssa’s death. “Everyone loved you. You loved being a teacher. You really loved your students and colleagues at Echo Park Elementary School. We are devastated and heartbroken.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident.
post with wires