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Six Dead in Wisconsin Small Plane Crash

Six men have died in a Wisconsin small plane crash, leaving authorities to investigate what could have caused the July 1 tragedy. Although little information about the crash has been released, officials have confirmed that the pilot was talking with air traffic controllers about a "local weather phenomenon" just prior to the crash. As they investigate, officials will look into weather, pilot error and mechanical issues as possible factors in the plane crash.

Fatal Plane Crash Occurred on Fishing Trip in Canada 

All six men on board the plane died in the crash. The plane was headed to Winnipeg, Canada, for a fishing trip when it left Waukegan National Airport, near Chicago, Illinois, at 12:25 a.m. on July 1. Later, as the plane traveled through northern Wisconsin, in Catawba, it crashed.

Eric Weiss, a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the debris suggested that the plane broke up during the flight. The wreckage was found around State Highway 111 and U.S. Highway 8. According to officials, the debris extended a quarter mile. It was shortly after the pilot discussed the weather with air traffic controllers that it dropped off the radar and air traffic control lost contact. Officials do not yet know what weather the pilot was talking about, nor whether or not it was a factor in the crash.

"Sky King Flying Service owned the plane, a Cessna 421 C. It was registered in 2011 and has a maximum speed of 90 miles per hour.

As of Monday, July 3, the on-site investigation was complete and the wreckage was taken to a different location. A preliminary report is typically issued within 10 days of the crash, though a full report, including the likely cause of the crash, could take up to 18 months.

Six Cessna Plane Crash Victims Identified 

The plane crash victims were identified as Thomas DeMauro, 56, and his son Kyle DeMauro, 21; Kevin King, 70, neighbor to the DeMauros and certified commercial pilot; Charles Tomlitz, 69, and his son George Tomlitz, 45; and James Francis, 63.

In a written statement to WSAW, the DeMauro Family expressed their gratitude for the "outpouring of support" after the tragedy.

"We would also like to express our heartfelt condolences to the other families affected by this tragedy. Tom was our beloved son, husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, teacher and coach. Kyle was our dear son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend; a compassionate young man who had a promising future."

Thomas DeMauro was a physical education teacher at Tioga Elementary School in Bensenville, Illinois and Chuck Tomlitz was the district maintenance director for Bensenville Elementary District 2.

"We are very sad to inform you that Thomas DeMauro, Tioga PE teacher and Charles (Chuck) Tomlitz, GCA Maintenance Director for BSD2 were killed in a plane crash in route to a Canadian fishing trip," the school's Facebook page reads. "The plane crashed early this morning after rapidly losing altitude according to police. Mr. DeMauro and Mr. Tomlitz will be missed by all the Tioga Community."

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the victims' families. As of July 4, more than $12,000 had been raised.

"There are no words to truly express how devastating it is to lose a loved one," the campaign reads. "As a school family, we have not had a loss as tragic as this hit us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to both Tom and Chuck's families."

NTSB, FAA Investigate Fatal Plane Crash 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating what caused the plane to crash, including what role weather might have played and what caused the plane to break apart while in flight. Among factors they will consider is whether the plane was properly maintained, whether the pilot made any errors in response to an emergency, or whether other circumstances played a role in the crash. As with many private plane crashes, there is rarely one thing that causes a tragedy, rather, a series of events that lead up to a final, devastating result.

Plane Crash Attorney 

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a small plane crash, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights. Wrongful death and personal injury claims can be made against those responsible for the plane crash-including the plane's manufacturer, owner and operator-if their actions or inaction resulted in the crash. Plane crashes often have devastating consequences, even if the plane crash victims live. Attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman have successfully represented the small plane crash victims and their families, and helped them obtain the compensation they were entitled to.

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