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Northern Michigan plane crash leaves four dead; girl, 11, sole survivor

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Michigan Airport Directory
A twin-engine propeller-powered plane operated by Island Airways crashed Saturday on approach to Welke Airport on Beaver Island off the coast of Northwest Lower Michigan, authorities said.

A plane crash on Beaver Island off the coast of Northwest Lower Michigan killed four people over the weekend. An 11-year-old girl is the only survivor, according to the Charlevoix County sheriff’s department, which responded to the scene.

Federal investigators said preliminary information indicates the Island Airlines plane crashed on approach to Beaver Island’s Welke airport Saturday afternoon.

Sheriff’s deputies found three people dead at the scene, the department said. They were realtor Mike Perdue and new island residents Kate Leese and Adam Kendall, according to the department.

Leese, 35, and Kendall, 37, were the subjects of a Detroit News article about their dream of opening a vineyard on Beaver Island a week before the crash.

A coast guard helicopter evacuated two others -- the pilot, and the 11-year-old girl, who is Perdue’s daughter. The girl, whose name has not been released by authorities, was taken to McLaren Northern Michigan hospital in Petoskey for treatment. The plane’s pilot was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, officials said.

The sheriff’s department said it was not releasing the name of the pilot because his family had not yet been notified of his death.

Two dogs aboard the plane also died in the crash, officials said.

Charlevoix County Sheriff Charles Vondra said the plane appeared to have crashed nose-first near the intersection of the airport’s two runways.

A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board said the agency was sending two investigators to piece together what led to the crash.

Mary Delamater, Island Airways’s general manager, said the twin-engine propeller plane left the Charlevoix airport at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday without any apparent problems and crashed about 15 minutes later as it approached Beaver Island.

Delamater said the crash was devastating for the company. “Not a damn one of us is good right now,” she said.

Charlevoix County sheriff’s lieutenant William Church said the department has no plans for a criminal investigation.

Federal records show five planes have crashed on Beaver Island since 1995. Three of those crashes have been fatal, the last of which was in 2002.

A WCMU News search of the National Transportation Safety Board’s aviation accident database shows no record of other crashes of Island Airlines planes.