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Four Dead After Small Plane Crashes into Wind Turbine

A small plane crash in South Dakota claimed the lives of four men Sunday night. The fatal crash happened on a wind farm roughly 10 miles south of Highmore, South Dakota.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say the Piper plane was flying very low when it collided with a wind turbine standing at roughly 213 feet, plus the length of the blade. The wreckage was found on Monday at the South Dakota Wind Energy Center. Authorities identified the victims as 30-year-old pilot Donald J. "D.J." Fischer of Gettysburg, 37-year-old Brent Beitelspacher of Bowdle, 25-year-old Logan Rau of Java and 33-year-old Nick Reimann of Ree Heights.

The four men were returning to Gettysburg from a sale of live cattle in Hereford. The plane had just picked up a passenger in Highmore prior to the crash. According to ABC News, it is not currently known whether a flight plan was filed. Fischer was not communicating with air traffic controllers when the crash occurred.

According to NTSB investigator Jennifer Rodi, the crash may have been caused by weather, which was reportedly foggy with low clouds and wind between 15 and 25 miles-per-hour in Highmore at the time of the crash. Rodi also indicated that there might have been mechanical issues with the plane. "Was the pilot having problems? Was it the weather? Was the airplane having problems?" Rodi told the media. "We haven't ruled anything out at this point."

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