Air Force service member, civilian killed in Saunders County plane crash

Published: Jul. 24, 2016 at 3:48 PM CDT
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Offutt Air Force Base said Monday one of the victims of Sunday afternoon's small plane crash near Leshara was an active duty Air Force service member and the other was a civilian. Their names have not been released, but officials said the pilot was 27, and the instructor was a 61-year-old.

The Beech 55 aircraft was from the LeMay Flight Club, which is based out of Offutt.

The Saunders County Sheriff’s Department says the plane went down in a soybean field near Ida Street and Ginger Cove Road, about 20 miles from Omaha, around 3 p.m. A witness described seeing the aircraft come sputtering from the sky nose first.

Carol Lukowski’s granddaughter witnessed the crash. Lukowski called 911, but there wasn’t much more she could do. "Immediately knew that something, well we figured it had to be an airplane."

Lukowski said they’re used to seeing crop dusters fly by, but deputies said this was a passenger plane. She was cutting her son's hair in their home when her granddaughter watched the crash out the window. "I had the clippers going and she heard it and she looked out the window and said ‘NaNa’ there's a fire outside."

Lukowski said they started looking for fire extinguishers. "That's the only thing you think is how can you help. That is, that's the only thing 'cause…you know, you probably you can't do much. The smoke was black."

Sheriff's deputies told WOWT 6 News the crash created an instant ball of fire, one that no one would walk away from. “I think we knew that it was too dangerous,” said Lukowski. "I don't think it was even a question of getting out there and being able to save anybody. I really don't.”

Lukowski said her family is praying for the victims and their families. "One of the first things we did is come back here and say some prayers...for the families who are going to get that phone call, absolutely."