Fatal Plane Crash Narrowly Misses Michigan Prison

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A small plane that crashed in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and killed four people aboard was carrying three employees of a Wisconsin company, the company's president said Tuesday.

The twin-engine, noncommercial plane crashed near Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Mich., about 9:30 a.m. EDT Monday, said Russ Marlan, a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman. No one at the prison was injured, but the pilot and three passengers, all from Wisconsin, were killed, Michigan state police said.

John Nagy, president of Waukesha-based Spancrete Group Inc., said his 30-year-old brother, Dan, was traveling on a business trip to Canada.

"My brother was a great, great, great guy," John Nagy said.

John Nagy said employees James Wehr, 47, and Mike Wraalstad, 59, also were aboard.

Michigan state police identified the pilot as Nicholas Gerger, 23.

"We're a family company, and our employees are like our family. That's what we are and that's what we lost today, three family members," John Nagy said.

Daniel Nagy, who was the grandson of the founder, was the vice president and secretary of the board, according to a statement the company released Tuesday.

Wraalstad was the general manager of WBC Corp., the trucking division of Spancrete. Wehr was a supervisor at WBC, the statement said. Both had been with the company for more than 25 years.

Brian Behrens, owner of Spring City Aviation of Waukesha, said the plane's pilot came from his company and had been with the company for a year.

The plane hit a buffer fence surrounding the outermost rim of the prison, Marlan said. The fence is located about 20 feet outside the prison's secure perimeter.

The crash caused minimal damage to the facility, and no prisoners were near the site at the time of the crash, said Leo Lalonde, a spokesman for the corrections department.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Robert Allen said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.

Spancrete Group's Web site says the company provides precast and pre-stressed concrete for structures worldwide.