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March 20, 2013

Fuselage removed from home after crash

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Barricades were removed Tuesday from the northern Indiana neighborhood where a private jet plowed into three houses, killing two people and injuring three others, after a crane lifted a large section of the battered fuselage from a house, placed it on a truck and hauled it to a hangar where investigators will sift through the remains.

All of the South Bend residents who were evacuated following Sunday’s crash, except for those living in the three homes that were struck, were allowed to return home Tuesday.

“It sure does feel good to be home,” said Stan Klaybor, who lives across the street from the homes that were struck.

Frank Sojka said he’d never really worried about living so close to the South Bend Regional Airport until the jet sheared the roof off the house where he’s lived for 55 of his 84 years.

“I never worried about it, but I thought about it,” he said with a chuckle. “Now I’m worried about it.”

Sojka said he was in the front bedroom Sunday when he heard a loud, dull sound and went to his living room.

“I could see the sky through the ceiling and all kinds of debris in the far end of the living room,” he said.

The private jet originating from Tulsa crashed into three homes Sunday, killing former Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis who led Oklahoma to back-to-back national championships in the 1970s, and his friend, Wes Caves, a Tulsa businessman.

Davis, 60, and Caves, 58, were the jet’s flight crew. Funeral services for both are still pending in Tulsa.

The crash occurred after two aborted attempted landings at South Bend Regional Airport. It wasn’t immediately clear who was at the controls when it crashed.

Two passengers and a woman residing in one of the damaged homes remained hospitalized Tuesday.

Nearly 8,000 small private planes take off and land at the northern Indiana airport each year, said Michael Guljas, the airport’s director of administration and finance. But in his 30 years working at the airport, he has never seen anything like Sunday’s crash.

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