Rescuer Shuns Hero Title

Charles Norwesh and his wife helped save lives of two people in downed medical aircraft

By BJ Lutz and Christian Farr
|  Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011  |  Updated 11:05 PM CDT
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911 Calls, Control Tower Audio from Crash Released

Charles Norwesh

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911 Calls, Control Tower Audio from Crash Released

Three people were killed when a medical plane went down in Riverwoods late Monday night. Two people survived.
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A Riverwoods man who helped rescue two people from a burning plane late Monday night doesn't want to be called a hero.

"Well, I don't know about that, but we did everything we could. I hope the two survivors do well," Charles Norwesh said Tuesday outside his home, just feet from where a medical plane went down in a wooded area at about 11 p.m.

The noise was intense, neighbors said, and Norwesh and his wife, Kimberly, said they immediately ran outside when the Piper Navajo crashed across the street.

"I saw the co-pilot moving and I realized how close he was to the fire and we had to get him out of the plane," said Norwesh.

A medic freed himself.

"I can't believe he survived an accident like that and walked away. His arm was pretty badly shattered and we helped bandage him up but he got out on his own," said Norwesh.

Killed in the crash were the pilot, William Didier of Cedar Grove, Wis., as well as the patient, John Bialek and his wife, Ilomae Bialek.

"It was the most frightening thing I'd ever experienced. There was blood and bodies and it was hard to see," said Norwesh.

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.

In audio released Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration, Didier can be heard telling flight controllers of a fuel problem.

"Do you still want to land at Palwaukee?" a controller asks.

"Unable. We are out of fuel and we are coasting..." responded Didier.

The flight originated in West Palm Beach, Fla., and refueled in Jesup, Ga., according to fire officials.

The plane had just passed a safety inspection and the crash was the first in the company's 33-year history, according to Ron Schaberg, the aviation company's president.

Didier's wife, Connie Didier, said her husband took his first solo flight at 16 and had been a pilot for more than 30 years.

"He's very thorough," she said. "Sometimes, he was obnoxiously thorough."

Nobody on the ground was injured. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate.

John & Ilomae Bialek

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