Investigation could last up to a year

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wreckage crews work to clear the debris from a fatal plane crash near the Demopolis Airport Tuesday. Seven members of a Florida family were killed in the Saturday evening crash. -- Special photo

The Saturday plane crash in Marengo County that killed seven members of a Florida family is still under investigation.

The Demopolis Times reported Tuesday that Luke Schiada, investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said a preliminary report detailing the investigation would likely be made available next week; however, a conclusion could take several months, if not a year.

The wreckage of the plane is being transported to a recovery center in Atlanta. Until the investigation is complete, local officials are scratching their heads over why this tragedy occurred.

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“Losing an engine creates an emergency,” Demopolis Airport Manager Buzz Sawyer told The Times, “but under normal circumstances, you can fly on one engine. It’s not ideal, but you can do it. A plane like (the Teutenberg’s) – one that size — ordinarily should be able to make it on one engine for a while.”

The Teutenbergs’ plane reportedly lost its right engine during the Saturday evening flight from St. Louis to Destin, Fla. After reporting the engine malfunction, pilot Bill Teutenberg was instructed to divert his plane to the Demopolis airport.

The plane crashed about 6:30 p.m. Saturday in a wooded area near the Marengo/Sumter county line, but was not discovered until about 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

According to The Times, Sawyer said Meridian relayed the emergency call received from Teutenberg to the Demopolis facility.

“All we knew was that a plane had an emergency and was being diverted here with seven people on board,” said Sawyer, who drove from his home to the airport to escort the family from the plane. “But when I got there, of course, no one was there.”