Lantana, FL – Four Florida Atlantic University affiliates, two students and one faculty member, were killed in a small aircraft crash along with their pilot yesterday. This is one of three airplane crashes that have transpired at Lantana-based Kemper Aviation since October 2007. The two students that perished were 35 year old Damion Marx an integrative biology student pursuing a PhD and 43 year old Phil Heidemann pursuing a master’s degree. 36 year old Gareth Akerman was employed as an ornithologist for the university. 36 year old Jeff Rozelle was piloting the plane and perished along with the passengers. He was also the manager for Kemper Aviation and had been spoken with by senior air safety investigator for NTSB, Paul Cox after one of the preceding airplane crashes had occurred.
Someone tried to mercifully rescue the plane as it was burning by coming in with a fire extinguisher to eliminate the flames. It was already too late to save the pilot and passengers at that point. The passengers were headed on a bird watching excursion with each other.
Details as to why the crash occurred are sketchy at this point in time. By law information cannot be released by officials regarding the crash based off of speculation. A report ten days from the time of the crash will be released with some findings surrounding the crash. Information can never be released about a crash if it is mere speculation. A subsequent report will be released within four months of the time of the crash. It will give more details as to the reasons behind the crash. It’s anticipated that it will take a total of eight months for all of the information to be gathered detailing the reasons and events leading up to the fatal crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration will wait until they look through the flight school’s upkeep logs and operating procedures to decide whether they will take action against Kemper Aviation. If action were taken against Kemper Aviation they could face possible shut down, hefty fines, and/or letters of warning. The Federal Aviation Administration started picking up items as proof of evidence from the scene of the crash site.
Several eyewitness accounts of the crash are available for review and consideration. No details from the accounts have been released to the public either. The only person whose comments have been made public knowledge so far are those of David Bruner. He witnessed the plane gliding at a snail’s pace almost unable to keep flying due to the lack of speed. The Cessna 172 Skyhawk started to nose dive to the ground then flipped over completely when the wing made contact with the ground. It is known that the engine caught fire twice.
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk was manufactured in 1999. Officials are saying the visibility was very good yesterday which should not have affected the plane crash. Crashes can happen for a number of reasons even when visibility is excellent. Also, federal aviation employees are saying that no distress call was ever received from the pilot, Jeff Rozelle.