Officials cite low visibility, rain in fatal west Michigan plane crash

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Weather conditions could have been a factor in a small-plane crash last week in western Michigan that left two people dead, according to a preliminary report by federal investigators.

The single-engine plane crashed about 6 p.m. July 15 in Oceana County’s Shelby Township, Michigan State Police said.

Police said it crashed after taking off at Oceana County Airport, about a mile and a half northwest of the crash site, which is in a wooded area behind a residence.

The airport is about 35 miles north of Muskegon.

The single-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff July 15 from Oceana County Airport.

The aircraft’s only occupants, identified as pilot Raymond Gundy, 56, of Muskegon County, and his passenger, Troy Caris, 48, of Holton, were both killed, the agency reported.

The Cessna 210C had been headed to Warsaw Municipal Airport in Indiana, according to the National Transportation Safety Board accident preliminary report released Friday.

Two witnesses, both commercial pilots, saw the departure at the airport, the report said.

One witness said "that the (cloud) ceiling at the time of takeoff was no higher than 100 (feet), and the other witness reported that the airplane entered instrument meteorological conditions as it crossed a road about 1,300 (feet) past the departure end of the runway," investigators wrote.

"Both witnesses reported that the visibility was poor and it was raining at the time."

Another witness, who owned the land where the plane crashed, was inside his home at the time and reported hearing a “big roar outside" reminding him a tractor-trailer going by then heard a “big bang," according to the report.

When he looked outside a window, the man saw smoke or dust "then realized that an airplane had crashed adjacent to his house in the woods and the big roar was the engine running and it was 'revving up,' " the report stated. "The entire sequence lasted about 30 seconds."

Authorities said the plane did not show signs of fire or having lost structural components, according to the report.

They said Gundy held a private pilot certificate but did not possess an instrument rating.