By Murray Bishoff
The victims of the plane crash near Stotts City on Sunday, Nov. 4 have been identified.
Killed in the crash were Royce Deryl Edwards, 41, of Joplin, owner of the plane, and flight instructor Rick Armstrong, 50, of Neosho, confirmed the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department in an announcement on Tuesday, following an autopsy in Springfield.
The plane was based at the Monett Municipal Airport.
An investigation is underway into the crash of the twin engine plane.
According to Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay, his office received word that the plane, described as a 1956 Model 3-10 Cessna, crashed west of Stotts City shortly before 6 p.m. DeLay and five other officers from the sheriff's office responded to the scene along with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The plane seemed to have been headed south when it hit the ground two and a half miles north of Interstate 44 on the west side of Highway F. The plane came very close to a nearby house, which appears to have been unoccupied.
The plane crashed with significant impact and burst into flames, DeLay said. According to Deputy Coroner Don Lakin, the plane came within a short distance of a five-foot high pile of wood cut from trees or salvaged for firewood. The wood ignited in the ensuing fire.
"The plane was engulfed in the flames and burned completely," Lakin said.
|Lakin and County Coroner Scott Lakin removed the two bodies from the site.||The bodies were burned beyond recognition, Don Lakin said. Dental records were secured for the autopsy.|
Stotts City firefighters responded to the scene. The ambulance crew from St. John's reached the scene first and determined no additional aid was needed, so the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance en route was cancelled.
DeLay said his officers provided overnight security at the crash site. Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were taking over the crash investigation. The first investigators, coming in from St. Louis, were expected to arrive around 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 5 from St. Louis, ahead of the teams coming from Dallas, Texas, and Wichita, Kan.
Local authorities provided assistance in support of the investigation, DeLay said. Queries were being made to airports to trace the plane.
Edwards purchased the plane earlier this year. Armstrong was an active flight instructor in Monett and Neosho for more than five years and well known in the Monett area.