Authorities name victims in fatal Hermantown plane crash – Duluth News Tribune

HERMANTOWN – Three Twin Cities residents were killed late Saturday night when the small plane they were flying in crashed into a home and a farm just south of Duluth International Airport.

Hermantown officials said Sunday afternoon that Alyssa Schmidt, 32, of St. Paul, and her brother, Matthew Schmidt, 31, Burnsville, Minn., were passengers in the plane, while Tyler Fretland, 32, Burnsville, was the pilot. All three died in the crash.

Two residents of the home, Jason and Crystal Hoffman, were not injured in the accident, which happened a few minutes before midnight on Saturday.

“I’m still not sure what to think. It doesn’t seem right at all. We’re just lucky. The loss of life is heartbreaking. At the same time, we’re thankful to make it through this,” Jason Hoffman said, recalling the crash Sunday morning .

Emergency personnel in front of a damaged home after a plane crash

Emergency personnel stand in front of the Hoffman residence on the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road in Hermantown on Sunday. A Cessna 172 plane crashed into the house late Saturday night. Both homeowners are OK, but the Hermantown Police Department says all three people in the Cessna 172 died in the crash.

Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

According to Hermantown Communications Director Joe Wicklund, the Hermantown Police Department was notified by the airport’s control tower that a small plane had left the radar and was believed to have crashed. The control tower reported that the last location on the radar was 1 to 1.5 miles south of the airport.

Police and fire departments from surrounding agencies responded to the area and located the wreckage of a Cessna 172 aircraft in the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road. The plane hit the second floor before coming to rest in the property’s backyard.

Debris from a plane crashing into a house seen from above

The wreckage of the fatal plane crash is seen from above.

Contributed / Elliott Peterson

Damage to a home after a plane crashed into it

Damage to a portion of the roof at the Hoffman residence on the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road.

Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

The plane took out much of the second floor of the home at 5154 Arrowhead Road. Pieces of the plane and damaged vehicles parked in the yard were strewn across the backyard. The largest intact piece of the Cessna appeared to be the tail section. Wicklund said the occupants of the small brick house were upstairs when the crash happened and were uninjured.

“I remember waking up to a very loud explosion and my wife screaming,” Hoffman said. “The first thing I thought was that the furnace exploded.”

Man stands in front of caution tape with damaged home behind him

Jason Hoffman stands on the other side of caution tape from his home. Both Hoffman and his wife Crystal were home at the time of the crash.

Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

It wasn’t until he fumbled through the darkness and dust for a flashlight that Hoffman noticed an airplane wheel next to his bed and realized it was a crash.

Neighbors quickly responded to the scene and warned the Hoffmans not to move yet as there were live wires surrounding the home. The couple found their cat unharmed in the basement and eventually left the home when the dust and rubble became overwhelming.

The accident apparently caused widespread power outages in the area, but Minnesota Power reported that no customers were without power as of 8 a.m. Sunday.

A house was damaged after a plane crashed into it

The Hoffman residence on the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road in Hermantown as seen from a neighbor’s yard Sunday.

Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

Hoffman believes the house may be a total loss. He and his wife have lived there for seven years since moving from Worthington, Minnesota.

“This was actually the first house we saw when we came to town. My wife and I told each other we’re going to live there and we ended up buying it, unbelievable,” Hoffman said. “It was kind of like a storybook that we found it and fell in love with it so quickly.”

Damage to a home after a plane crashed into it

Damage to the Hoffman residence as seen Sunday.

Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are conducting an investigation, authorities said. Additional information will be released in consultation with the NTSB.

Part of a plane after a crash

Part of a Cessna 172 airplane sits at rest near a detached garage at the Hoffman residence on the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road in Hermantown as seen from a neighbor’s yard Sunday.

Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

This story was updated several times, most recently at 15.55 on 2 October with the names of the victims. It was originally published at 8.14 on 2 October.

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