MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 9, 2013

Area plane crash victims identified as two Kansas men

Aircraft hit vacant house; no one on ground injured


Associated Press

— TULSA (AP) — The pilot and passenger who died in a single-engine plane crash near a Tulsa suburb were identified Monday by family members and colleagues as federal investigators arrived at the site and began collecting evidence.

The pilot in Sunday’s accident was identified by his twin brother Monday as Ronald Marshall, a retired gynecologist in Manhattan, Kan. Federal Aviation Administration records show the 1984 Mooney fixed-wing plane was registered to Marshall in DeWitt, Neb., where he owned farmland.

The passenger was identified by colleagues Monday as Chris Gruber, the development director for the college of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University, also in Manhattan.

The aircraft had departed Tulsa around 5:50 p.m. Sunday for Manhattan. It crashed shortly after takeoff, plowing into a vacant house near Collinsville and sparking a small blaze that was quickly put out by firefighters, according to the FAA. Nobody on the ground was injured, the agency said.

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board arrived Monday morning to begin processing the site. NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said a preliminary report would be released within 10 days, but a fuller report wouldn’t be available for a year to 18 months.

The FAA had reported Sunday that there were as many as three dead, but the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office said it had only received two bodies as of Monday afternoon. Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, said local authorities were still searching for more victims.

A message left for Collinsville Police Chief Jimmie Richey wasn’t immediately returned Monday.

Reached by The Associated Press at his deceased twin brother’s house Monday afternoon, Rod Marshall said he couldn’t comment.

“It’s not a good time,” he said. “We’re planning a funeral here.”

Rod Marshall told the Omaha World-Herald earlier Monday that he and his brother met in Tulsa to attend a gun show. The brothers had dinner after the show and both made their way home afterward — Ronald in his plane and Rod in his car.

Gruber had worked for Kansas State for more than eight years, said KSU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson.

Ralph Richardson, the dean at KSU’s veterinary medicine college, said the department and school were in mourning over “the public face of the veterinary college.”

“We’re hurting,” he said. “He will be forever missed, but he would have wanted us to keep on keeping on.”