Photo taken Tuesday afternoon of the crash site investigation.
Photo taken Tuesday afternoon of the crash site investigation. Click for full size.

Our condolences go out to the families of some fine people who lost their lives in the crash of a plane roughly two miles shy of the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, IL early Tuesday morning.

BLOOMINGTON (Pantagraph) — Seven people likely died on impact when their small plane crashed early Tuesday morning east of Bloomington.

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis identified the victims as pilot Thomas Hileman, 51, of Bloomington; Normal residents Aaron Leetch, 37; Andy Butler, 40; and Torrey Ward, 36; Jason Jones, 45, and Terry Stralow, 64, both of Bloomington; and Scott Bittner, 42, of Towanda.

She said Hileman, Leetch, Stralow and Jones had to be identified by dental records. All seven were found fastened in their seats.

Davis spoke at an evening press conference at Central Illinois Regional Airport, followed by spokesmen from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Davis would not say whether the crash involved a fire.

Hileman, Butler, Jones, Stralow and Bittner were Twin City area businessmen. Leetch and Ward were members of Illinois State University’s athletics department. All were returning from Indianapolis after the title game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Pantagraph photo of the crash site from earlier Tuesday.
Pantagraph photo of the crash site from earlier Tuesday.
4 thoughts on “OUR CONDOLENCES: Plane crash kills seven near Bloomington”
  1. This crash and loss of life is a huge hit to the Bloomington/Normal and ISU communities. Condolences to all the family, friends, and business associates for these losses.

  2. Tom Hileman was a great flight instructor, and a man that should be looked up to. He was a very accomplished pilot who flew for many years with many passengers that he had great respect for. More than that he loved his wife and five kids. That loved flowed to kids in haiti that he was helping to get educations. It has been a pleasure to get to know the Hileman family. The world needs more people like them. I will never forget Tom and will pray for all seven of the men on a regular basis. Let’s please show how great the gun community is in central Illinois and reach out and touch their families with prayers.

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