3 Killed in Medical Flight Crash in Riverwoods

Plane crashed in wooded area north of Lake County Forest Preserve

By Michelle Relerford and Stefan Holt
|  Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011  |  Updated 1:12 PM CDT
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Three people died after a medical flight crashed in a home's backyard in north suburban Riverwoods. Emergency personnel say five people were on board the plane at the time of the crash.

Three people died after a medical flight crashed in a home's backyard in north suburban Riverwoods. Emergency personnel say five people were on board the plane at the time of the crash.

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'Sounded Like 100 mph Winds': Homeowner

A small plane crashed Monday night just feet from John McGuire's house in his backyard. "It's starting to sink in how lucky I was," he said.
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Three people died after a medical flight crashed in a home's backyard Monday night in north suburban Riverwoods.

Five people were on board the plane at the time of the crash, according to emergency personnel, and the Riverwoods fire chief said three others were taken to area hospitals, where one died.

The Piper Navajo aircraft went down sometime between 10:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. near Portwine Road and Orange Brace Road just north of the Lake County Forest Preserve.

The pilot reported "fuel problems" shortly before the plane crashed. The flight originated in West Palm Beach, Fla., and refueled in Jesup, Ga., according to fire officials.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified two of the deceased as Ilomae Bialek, 75, of Streamwood and pilot William Didier, 58, from Cedar Grove, Wis. They both died on the scene.

The third is believed to be John Bialek, 80, of Streamwood, who was transported for a medical issue and died in the hospital. Ilomae Bialek is his wife.

The aircraft was registered to Trans North Aviation Limited in Eagle River, Wis., and was on its way to the Chicago Executive Airport, five miles from where it crashed.

The plane landed mere feet from Riverwoods resident John McGuire's house.

"It sounded like 80 to 100 mph winds," McGuire said, "like debris hitting the house. And I thought it was so strange, I didn't hear any engine noise or anything like that."

He was watching a football game and didn't realize what had happened until five or six emergency crews drove into his driveway, he said.

"When the firefighter told me there was a plane in my backyard, I was just hoping that it was a single engine and not a 737. It's starting to sink in how lucky I was."

The FAA and NTSB investigators were on the scene.

This is the second deadly plane crash in the Chicago area since Saturday.

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