By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
CANTON, Mo. — Two southern Illinois men were killed in a small-plane crash Wednesday in a rural pasture about 3 1/2 miles southwest of Canton.
The plane crashed in an open field nearby a wooded area relatively close to 314th Ave.
John R. Johnson, 74 of Carbondale, and Carl S. Maiden, 47, of DuQuoin, died in the crash, believed to have occurred around 6 p.m. Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish said Thursday morning it was not clear yet which man was piloting the plane.
The identities were confirmed Thursday morning in a joint statement by Parrish and Lewis County Coroner Larry Arnold. Arnold had pronounced the two individuals dead at 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.
"The crash is believed to have been an accident," Parrish said. "The two men were believed to be on their way to Iowa for an antique air show, but that has not yet been confirmed."
Parrish said it is believed the plane took off from an airport in Pinckneyville, Ill. The crash site is about 10 miles from Lewis County Regional Airport, but it is not known if the plane was attempting the land at the facility.
Parrish said the time of the crash was determined by a report the Lewis County Sheriff's Department received from an individual who lives within a mile of the crash site.
"We also talked with someone who said he heard a plane at about 5:45 p.m. and a (possible) crash sound (shortly afterward)," Parrish said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to have representatives on the ground at some point Thursday. The FAA was in contact with the Lewis County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol throughout Wednesday evening.
Two local residents from near the site of the crash said Wednesday night the area where the plane went down is considered "haunted." Jacob Taff, 18, and Logan Cibert, 20, arrived around 10 p.m. after they had heard about the crash.
"This is referred to as Magic School Bus Road and has always been considered haunted," Taff said.
Cibert said there have been numerous accidents on the road in past years.
Parrish said this is the third plane crash he has had to deal with in Lewis County in his 12-year tenure as sheriff.
Stevens Lee Walker, 71, of Newark, Mo., was the pilot and sole occupant of a single-engine plane that crashed and burned Nov. 1, 2007, shortly after taking off from the Sharpe Farms Airport. The plane crashed nose-first about 2.5 miles southeast of the private airstrip in a yet to be harvested field of milo. The site was seven-tenths of a mile east of State Highway D, on Lewis County 245th Street. Walker, a retiree from the Missouri Department of Transportation, was piloting a Zodiac 601XL.
Sam E. Sparks, 40, of Casselberry, Fla., and his 11-year-old son, Justin Sparks, of Winter Springs, Fla., were killed in a plane crash two miles from the Taylor airport on May 26, 2000. The plane went down in a soybean field in severe weather conditions. The single-engine Bellanca 17-30A landed about a mile east of County Road Z, 1 1/2 miles north of County Road V. The father and son were visiting family in the area.
Parrish said there was not yet any information on the make, model or other details involving the plane. According to information supplied by an individual who arrived at the scene before dark, the plane appeared to have been a relatively small craft and was "broken into pieces."
"At this point, we have no idea what may have caused the crash," Parrish said.
Also assisting at the scene were members of the Canton police and fire departments, and the Lewis County Ambulance District.
Editor's Note: This stoy has been updated.