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CNN Today

Plane Crash Kills Crew, but Passengers Survive

Aired February 9, 2001 - 4:20 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: From Michigan today, we get a story of death and survival for a charter flight bound for a remote island. A mother and her three children survived when a small plane went down on Beaver Island. That's in the far northern part of Lake Michigan. The plane's two crew members, though, died.

The twin-engine turboprop, which had taken off from Chicago, crashed on a bluff just about a mile from Beaver Island's airport. Right now, authorities are trying to pinpoint the cause of the crash.

Joining us now on the telephone line with more on this story is Sheriff George Lasater from Charlevoix, Michigan.

Sheriff, we appreciate your being with us. Can you tell us now, now that you've had a little chance to investigate at the crash scene, crash site and so forth exactly what happened or what you know about it to this point?

CHARLES LASATER, SHERIFF, CHARLEVOIX, MICHIGAN: OK, it's a little premature for us to draw a conclusion as to cause of the aircraft accident. We will be interviewing the survivors sometime later on this afternoon, and also the FAA will be on-site tomorrow morning and they will be able to give us a little more information on that.

CHEN: But does it seem clear? I understand that the weather was rough last night. Does it seem clear that that was the cause?

LASATER: That's a possibility, because we did have they classify as low visibility last night.

CHEN: Talk to us about the condition of the mother and her three children.

LASATER: OK. When the first aircraft flew over the scene, which was the pilot of Island Airways, he said he saw the mother outside the craft, waving at his plane, and when the rescuers arrived, the mother was in good condition and the three children were also in good condition. And the last report I've had from the local hospital is that they're going to be OK, and they are in fair condition.

CHEN: Now, the incredible thing here is it was, as you say, a commercial pilot who actually saw them even though you had people out looking for them. You knew there might be something wrong out there? LASATER: Yes, we had three helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard station out at Traverse City and three boats from the Coast Guard stations in Lake Michigan, and also land crews working on snowmobiles and ATVs working that area.

CHEN: Can you talk to us -- we understand now that the crew has been identified. Tragically, they were lost in this crash.

LASATER: Yes, ma'am.

CHEN: And can you tell us anything about them? They were professionals -- not related in any case to the family on the plane?

LASATER: To my knowledge, they were not. Do you have the names? I can release those if you do not have those.

CHEN: Sure, sir, if you would give us those.

LASATER: OK, the pilot was a Curtis Logan, 51, of Little Falls, Minnesota, and the co-pilot was a Steve Erhart, 23, of Elgin, Illinois.

CHEN: Is this the sort of area that you -- you commonly get sort of this tourist traffic coming from, I guess Chicago in this case, but from other areas around the Lakes?

LASATER: Yes, Beaver Island is a very popular tourist attraction, especially in the summertime, not so much in the wintertime, but in the summertime it is very popular.

CHEN: All right, Sheriff George Lasater from Charlevoix in Michigan telling us more about the plane crash and what they've been able to find out so far about it. As you see, we've just received these pictures in from the Coast Guard of the crash site, and it does look like it was a very difficult scene. Fortunately, though, a mother and her three children, who were the passengers on that plane, did survive, although the crew members were killed.

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